DARPA finances General Atomics algae project

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 15, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 27, 2009, at 2:17 p.m. CST

San Diego-based General Atomics has received a $43 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a scalable process for cost-effective, large-scale production of algae oil and an algae-derived JP-8 jet fuel surrogate.

General Atomics will lead a team of 18 university and industrial partners in a three-year project that will examine all aspects of algae-to-jet fuel production with the goal of making algae jet fuel an affordable, reliable long-term supply for the Department of Defense. The program will address algae selection and growth; water, carbon dioxide and nutrient supply; algae harvesting; oil extraction; and conversion to JP-8. The contract will conclude with a pre-pilot-scale demonstration.

The advanced technologies group at General Atomics will handle the algae project. In addition to working on technologies to convert algae into fuel, the group has researched technologies to convert plastic wastes, trash and biomass into power. General Atomics works on a wide range of energy and advanced technologies for industry and the government, including work on nuclear energy, laser technology, electromagnetic power technology, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
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