The solution may come from a technology already being used in petroleum refineries - hydroprocessing, combined with microscopic algae. Hydroprocessing allows refineries to catalytically remove impurities or reduce molecular weight and can manipulate algal oils to achieve kerosene-like fuel characteristics. Enhanced Biofuels & Technologies (EBT) is hoping to extend its microalgal oil research via oil refinery partnerships. If they can achieve military jet fuel performance from algal-based biofuels, EBT may be able to produce bio J-8 at geographically distributed refineries reducing the logistics requirements of shuttling fuel around the world.
Moving forward, EBT's top research priorities include:
- Increase lipid yields through strain selection, screening, and genetic engineering technology,
- Genetically manipulating microalgae's normal growth and lipid production rates to keep both high
- Optimising lipids production with the view to producing jet fuel
- Working with oil refiners to tailor hydroprocessing to use for converting microalgal oil to jet and multi-purpose military fuels