Air Force Academy partners with Cool Clean to tackle biofuels

By | October 14, 2009
Posted October 28, 2009

The Environmental Research Center in Colorado recently partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and an Eagan, Minn., company to help the Air Force Academy develop methods to cultivate and harvest algae oil as part of the Academy's Net Zero 2015 energy program.

The ERC partnered with the AFRL and signed a cooperative research and development agreement with Cool Clean Technologies Inc. in order to develop processes for producing biofuels based on algae oil, said ERC director Dr. Don Veverka.

"This represents an excellent opportunity for our young leaders to witness first-hand how a service academy can partner with private industry and academia," Dr. Veverka said. "They'll be working on an exciting research outcome that greatly impacts their futures and the future of the Air Force."

In addition, the ERC is in talks with Dr. Juergen Polle from Brooklyn University that will hopefully lead to another cooperative research agreement, Dr. Veverka said. The partnership may result in providing additional algae strains for further investigation as a biofuel application. Dr. Polle's research is funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

"These partnerships provide another superb research thrust for our cadets and the Air Force Academy in an exciting new technology," Dr. Veverka said. Cadets from various disciplines will take part as research moves forward, including involvement in a potential pilot-scale production facility.

Cool Clean has partnered with several leading biofuels companies focused on the efficient and cost-effective conversion of bio-oil to various biofuels. The company has demonstrated its technology using biofuel feed stocks, such as soybeans, dried distiller grains from ethanol production, camelina, pennycress and jatropha. The extraction process is environmentally friendly and cheaper than traditional extraction processes, said Jon Wikstrom, Cool Clean's President and CEO.

"We're very excited about working with the Air Force Academy and other Air Force partners," said Mr. Wikstrom, an Academy graduate. "We fully understand how important it is to have an internally controlled military fuel supply chain as a matter of national security as well as (because of) the significant environmental and cost benefits that may result from this effort."

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