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Algae-Based Biofuel R&D Efforts Make Strides

October 13, 2009

LOS ANGELES --- OriginOil Inc., which has developed technology to transform algae into renewable oil, announced the completion of the first phase of a cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

OriginOil has been working with INL to develop a process model for the commercial production of algae for biofuels and other products. Phase 1 of the agreement focused on developing a comprehensive mass-energy balance of OriginOil's proprietary process. This helped the company develop its productivity model recently presented to the National Algae Association's Quarterly Forum in Houston, Texas. INL researchers discussed the projected efficiency and recovery values for the various steps involved in the algae-growing process, including lipid and biomass production from algae. 

"Algae represent a potential key biomass resource for a sustainable bioenergy industry," said Tom Ulrich, INL senior advisory scientist. "Collaboration with OriginOil has been encouraging, especially the modeling of their algae growth and production process. Phase 2 of the CRADA [cooperative research and development agreement] will focus on further process validation, economic modeling and improved biomass logistics for the scale-up of algae biomass production." 

OriginOil CEO Riggs Eckelberry added: "We look forward to continuing our relationship with INL and incorporating their research into our technology development and performance modeling. Through this collaboration we will facilitate the growth of the entire algae sector, and create a domestic renewable fuel industry that will benefit both the environment and the economy." 

INL and OriginOil are currently negotiating the terms of Phase 2 and 3 of the cooperative R&D agreement. The deliverables for additional phases will include biological and chemical feedstock evaluation needed for systems integration design and scale-up demonstration. This work will identify and incorporate minor feeds (such as trace nutrients for algae), recycle streams, intermediate storage, utilities needed, and waste streams. Equipment sizes and the appropriate number of parallel units will also be determined, resulting in a more robust economic analysis of industrial scale systems. 

The company reported the results of Phase 1 as part of the first-ever productivity model for algae production. 

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