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 temperatures in the 20s.

The ability to grow algae in the open ponds in Nevada means that it could be much more economical than building enclosed bioreactors that might require heating and pumping. Professor John Cushman has been collaborating with Enegis, LLC and Bebout and Associates and the school could share in any profits derived from new patents that come out of this research. The first batch of algae grew from a "starter" culture to a stable equilibrium in less than three weeks. The team are moving forward with developing robust algae species that can thrive in the salty water of the region.

[Source: Nevada News]

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