OriginOil, INL collaborate on proposed algae biofuel project

By OriginOil Inc. | January 27, 2015

OriginOil Inc., developer of Electro Water Separation, the high-speed, chemical-free process to clean up large quantities of water, has announced that it is collaborating with the Idaho National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. A proposed project focuses on development and implementation of novel approaches to improve efficiency in algal biofuel production.

Together, OriginOil and INL have submitted a proposal in response to a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) titled Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts. The TABB FOA seeks alternative pathways to overcome two of the key barriers to commercializing algal biofuels: the high cost of producing algal biomass and the low yield of target biofuel and bioproduct feedstocks produced from algae.

“The proposed work scope complements current department-funded work at INL, which focuses on the development of productive, stable polycultures,” said Deborah T Newby, INL senior staff scientist and algal biofuels lead. “Specifically, this proposed research will facilitate testing to advance the understanding of using algae in developing sustainable fuels.”

Algae cultures that are open to the environment are susceptible to contamination by rotifers and other grazing organisms such as amoebae, ciliates, bacteria, and fungi. These contaminants have a large adverse impact on algae productivity and can “crash” algae cultures in a short period of time. OriginOil will use its Algae Screen technology, which disinfects algae cultures continuously by selectively damaging or killing these contaminants while having minimal impact on the algae.

Open ponds in particular are challenging to utilize for cultured algae strains, as opposed to natural blooms, because of the ease by which contaminants and competitors are inadvertently introduced. Raceways, tubs, and other open containers have similar issues with contaminants, and even small, covered vessels may become infested if the culture medium is not sufficiently disinfected prior to inoculation.