Algae association forms to advance biodiesel production

By Hope Deutscher | January 17, 2008
Web exclusive posted Jan. 25, 2008, at 7:18 a.m. CST

The National Algae Association, which recently opened its headquarters in Houston, is providing a new forum for researchers, producers and investors to advance the discussion and production of algae as a renewable energy source.

The association, which is in the formation stages, was founded by Barry Cohen of Biofuel Capital Partners, a private equity fund for biodiesel and other biofuels-related technology and production companies. Cohen said biodiesel producers, who are facing problems as a result of high soybean and vegetable oil feedstock costs, are looking to alternative feedstocks, such as algae. "We've got biodiesel producers that are contacting us every single day because they know they've got a problem, so by putting this together, we're bringing the researchers together. We're bringing the algae production companies together so that we can share information and exchange ideas. From that, we are pushing the commercialization of algae."

Algae can grow in ponds or tubes, and are considered a low-cost, high-yield feedstock. Up until now, researchers were researching algae production, but there was no motivation to commercialize it, Cohen said.

Since the association was created, Cohen said his phone has been ringing and his mailbox has been full. "People are asking me, 'Where can I buy algae feedstock from?' but there are currently limited quantities of algae feedstock available," he said. "This is sort of a new round of lower-cost, nonedible feedstock. Algae is not edible. We're talking about something that can be grown and turned into algae oil, and we have companies that have been contacting us about setting up production plants in Texas and other areas of the country."

The association is currently organizing a board of directors and plans to sponsor a national conference in May. A Web site should be operational in a few weeks. Inquiries can be sent to bcohen@nationalalgaeassociation.com.
 
 
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