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The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Biomass Program will host a webinar entitled "The Promise and Challenge of Algae as a Renewable Source of Biofuels" later today (2-4:30 p.m. EDT). This online conference marks the beginning of the DOE's series of webinars that will focus on the development of renewable fuels, power and products from biomass resources.

Melbourne, FL-based PetroAlgae has filed an S-1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the hopes of raising $200 million from an initial public offering. Unfortunately, despite the promise that algae shows as a feedstock for biofuels, PetroAlgae doesn't appear to have much to offer.

Back in the early days of mass-produced biofuels, corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel were all the rage. But criticism about food vs. fuel and scalability abounded and, by 2008, cellulosic ethanol became known as a so-called second-generation-biofuel and, maybe, the answer to our oil-addicted prayers. Blame Congress, blame the economy, heck, blame T. Boone Pickens if you want to, but the fact of the matter is that in the two years since cellulosic ethanol's big appearance, large-scale pro

We never really knew that plants sweat. Nor were we aware that when some of them sweat, it's good ole biodiesel pouring out. If that's the case, then let's turn up the heat and get rewarded with all the fuel we will ever need. A little-known American company called Joule Unlimited claims that perspiration from a new type of gene-altered single cell organism actually contains usable biodiesel fuel. To prove its case, Joule will open a test pilot plant in Texas, a region capable of making anything

Researchers in Spain have demonstrated that they can transform fungus directly into commercial-grade biodiesel.Through a process we admittedly don't pretend to completely understand, the fungus mucor circinelloides is made into ASTM-D6751-spec biodiesel without first having its oils extracted, a process called direct transesterification. For all you home-brew folks, or for those familiar with the process of good, old-fashioned transesterification, this all sounds pretty cool.

Over the last several years, algae has been seen as the great green hope to make biofuels a truly viable option that wouldn't affect food supplies. In part, this is because algae has the potential to yield up to 100 times as much fuel per acre as soy or corn feedstocks. Unfortunately, progress been slow so far, and a new study by Andres Clarens of the University of Virginia indicates making algae requires much more energy to produce than crops.

One of the most promising biofuel feedstocks in recent years has been algae. Algae is high in oil content, potentially providing much higher yields of fuel than any other current crop - as much as 100 times more than soy, for example. Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have been testing a pair of outdoor algae ponds to evaluate the viability of growing fuel algae in the region. The first phase was a success with algae growing in a pair of 5,000 gallon ponds even with overnight temperat

One of the more promising sources of biofuels in recent years has been algae. While there are a number of small scale tests along with some larger scale commercialization projects, the UK's Carbon Trust wants to accelerate the process. The Trust has launched an Algae Biodiesel Challenge with goal of making algae-sourced liquid fuels commercially viable by 2020. The first phase of the £30 million project will focus on research and development including finding the best strains of algae, yie

It's not all li-ion battery tech that the federal government is givng support to these days; biofuels are getting some tax dollars as well. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that six biofuel projects at universities around the U.S. will be getting up to $4.4 million in funding. The good news is that the money is for work in non-food cellulosic ethanol research. Full details are available after the jump, but here are some snippets:

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a "novel technology" that uses "commercially advantageous" strains of algae to make biofuels. While work on algae and biofuels is taking place around the world, UW might be on to something here, at least if we trust the investment firm Allied Minds. Allied Minds announced yesterday that it will create a new company, AXI, LLC, with the school to commercialize these strains and make biofuel with them.

Bloomfield Hills, MI-based Sequest LLC is contemplating building a pilot algae biodiesel plant in Holland (on Michigan's west side). Holland has a number of attributes that make it a good location for this particular project. Sequest wants the plant to use waste water for growing the algae and carbon-dioxide to feed it. A coal-fired power plant is in close proximity to the local water treatment plant. Michigan State University also has a research lab nearby.

Two companies, Holcim and Aurantia are starting a new project to reuse CO2. They take the CO2 produced by a cement plant in Jerez de la Frontera in Spain and "feed" it to microalgae which then turn around and produce biodiesel. The results of this project will be tested to assess if the carbon dioxide supplied by the cement plant is suitable for the algae. The two companies will also select the best type of algae for the project as well as assessing the viability of the project. The test will be

There are plenty of flex-fuel capable cars on the roads, but there is not nearly enough ethanol available to power all of them on the gasoline alternative. It's no secret that corn-based ethanol is not the answer to our oil woes, but if that's the case, what alternatives should we be looking closest at? Regular readers are surely aware that cellulosic ethanol is the way to go when it comes to alcohol-based fuels, but even with that process, a crop of some sort is required. Additionally, biodiese

Over the past couple of years, algae has been gaining a lot of attention as a potentially high-yield source of biodiesel fuel. As the controversy over food vs. fuel and water use grows for corn ethanol, researchers have been trying to find alternatives that don't require arable land and more energy to produce than they yield. Algae is looking like one of the best prospects with yields per acre of up to 100 times what can be achieved from soy and other crops.

At the Sundance film festival this week, Solazyme is promoting its scalable process that makes biodiesel from algae by driving a car through the busy streets of Park City, Utah. The Mercedes is fueled by Soladiesel, the Solazyme biodiesel that is "biodegradable, nontoxic and safe" and made using algae. Solazyme is working with Chevron on developing and testing the biodiesel. You can also see the Soladiesel car in Josh Tikell's Fields of Fuel documentary.

I wonder if this is the kind of thing the San Francisco Green Party would have a problem with: according to C-NET, two companies in Australia announced they will work together to run emissions from a coal plant through a bioreactor to make biodiesel. C-NET's Martin LaMonica writes that Linc Energy and Bio Clean Coal will create a prototype bioreactor (cost: $1 million) that will grow the algae that eat the carbon from the coal plant's emissions. Dry those suckers out and you've got a biomass th

Diesel fuel is a small market next to gasoline - only 40 Billion gallons a year or thereabouts compared to about 140 Billion gallons. Still 40 Billion is nothing to laugh at. Biofuels production in the U.S. is still under one billion gals/year. In all of Europe it is 1.4 billion gallons. To ramp up production may cause as much disturbance in soy and other oil-rich crops as ethanol has caused in corn and other food prices. But algae, well that's another story. It grows where and when people don't

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