Nov 11, 2009

Clean algae biofuel project

Australian scientists are achieving the world's best production rates of oil from algae grown in open saline ponds, taking them a step closer to creating commercial quantities of clean biofuel for the future.

A joint $3.3 million project led by Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, and involving the University of Adelaide, now leads world algae biofuel research after more than 12 months of consistent results at both universities.

“It was previously believed impossible to grow large quantities of algae for biofuel in open ponds consistently and without contamination, but we've proven it can be done,” says Project Leader, Professor Michael Borowitzka from Murdoch University.

The project has received $1.89 million funding from the Australian government as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

“This is the only biofuel project in Australia working simultaneously on all steps in the process of microalgal biofuels production, from microalgae culture, harvesting of the algae and extraction of oil suitable for biofuels production,” Professor Borowitzka says.

Professor Borowitzka says that due to the project’s success, construction of a multimillion-dollar pilot plant to test the whole process on a larger scale will now begin in Karratha in the North-West in January and is expected to be operational by July.

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