Academic and industry researchers are banding together in an attempt to make affordable algae-based fuels a reality within 10 years, Xconomy reported today.

The new organization is calling itself the San Diego Center for Algae-based Biofuels, and includes top researchers like the University of California, San Diego’s Steven Kay as well as General Atomics, Sapphire Energy and other local companies trying to turn algae into green gold.

General Atomics and SAIC have received tens of millions of dollars in grants form the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to develop large-scale production of algae-based jet fuel. General Atomics this week announced a revised total of $43 million in DARPA grants for algae.

From today’s Xconomy post:

Algae research is still at a relatively early stage, says Tony Haymet, director of UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and vice chairman of Cleantech San Diego’s board. But Haymet says he’s encouraged by San Diego’s “critical mass of companies, General Atomics included.” One of the major questions for the center to explore, Haymet says, is whether algae-to-biofuels technology is better suited for “distributed, small-scale production, or whether it’s going to be a big industrial refining operation like you see in the Gulf of Mexico.”

For more on efforts to make algae a viable transportation fuel and how San Diego is in the middle of it all, read my story from earlier this month.


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