MELBOURNE, FLA.‒ A $415,000 grant from The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services funds a Florida Tech project for the production of
biofuels and animal feed from microalgae. The university is collaborating with Aurora Biofuels Inc. of Alameda, Calif., at Florida Tech’s Vero Beach Marine
The grant is one of 12 awarded through a $25 million package of renewable energy grants funded by the Florida Legislature. The grants were announced Jan.
22 by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson. The 12 were chosen from among 76 vying for the awards and are part of
Bronson’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative, a program designed to get Florida’s agriculture industry to meet 25 percent of the state’s energy needs by the year
The Florida Tech-Aurora Biofuels research focuses on developing biofuel with co-products to enhance animal feed as a means to improve the economics of the
A key goal is to produce algae biomass with a high content of triglycerides suitable for conversion to biodiesel and with a high content of valuable
omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids, which can augment animal feeds.
For example, adding these products to chicken feeds produces a better-color egg with a high content of desirable omega-3 fatty acids. This creates
characteristics valuable to the consumer.
“We will work with Aurora to develop and test algal strains for their long-term outdoor production viability,” said Junda Lin, Florida Tech director of the
Institute for Marine Research and principal investigator on the grant. “We also want to harvest the alga by a low-cost sedimentation process for biofuel.”
The researchers will enrich, isolate, screen and select algal strains with high oil content; test the performance of selected strains in outdoor ponds;
demonstrate mass cultivation of the most promising strains; harvest the cells to yield a concentrated biomass content; and process the biomass to recover
Co-principal investigators on the grant are Paul Jennings, Florida Tech head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Joe Weissman, vice president of
operations of Aurora Biofuels. Undergraduate and graduate students as well as a research scientist and technician will also participate in the research.