Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No. 297: Mass production technology of algae for biofuel (August 18, 2011)

DIC, one of the Japanese leading chemical companies, and Tsukuba University have started joint research to develop the technology for mass production of algae for biofuel. The two organizations plan to finish the development toward 2013. Biofuel of algal origin attracts wide attention because it does not face such a fierce competition between food demand and fuel demand as biofuel of corn origin. They will develop the know-how on mass production using DIC’s culturing technology of algae for food colorants. The alga used for the joint research is botryococcus braunii, and they will develop the method to culture botryococcus braunii in volume outdoors. Tsukuba University dispatched its researchers to DIC’s subsidiary in California, Earthrise Nutritionals (EN), to conduct culturing experiments in EN’s production ponds. Tsukuba University has established the technology to extract and refine oil from algae to produce biofuel. The university is currently culturing algae in the laboratory, but reducing the cost through mass production is the critical factor for practical application. DIC started to produce a kind of algae, spirulina, in the U.S. in 1974. It has the capacity to produce 1,000 tons of spirulina per year.

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