Nearly $2.4 million federal grant awarded to help UT researcher turn algae into fuel source

September 12, 2017 | News, Research, UToday, Engineering
By Christine Billau

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded The University of Toledo a nearly $2.4 million grant to find a faster, cleaner process to produce fuel using algae without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide.

Dr. Sridhar Viamajala, UT associate professor of chemical engineering, said this three-year project to help algal fuels replace fossil fuels is a continuation of his previous work in partnership with Montana State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Arizona State University.


“We are trying to speed up the growth of algae by providing a very high pH environment that allows algae to take up carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere more efficiently and prevent unwanted contamination,” Viamajala said. “Since it grows in water, algae doesn’t have as much carbon dioxide available. We are trying to improve the cleaner fuel potential.”

The project to create a comprehensive strategy for stable, high-productivity cultivation of microalgae with controllable biomass composition also includes genetic testing.

“This funding puts northwest Ohio at the forefront of a national effort to create new technologies and methods for biofuels,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “These types of programs can lead to breakthroughs that will create American jobs and enhance our energy security, which is why I remain committed to renewable energy and advanced research from my role overseeing Department of Energy funding on the Appropriations Committee. Congratulations to the researchers at The University of Toledo for receiving this award.”

The research is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Bioenergy Technology.

UT’s grant is part of about $8.8 million recently announced by the U.S. Department of Energy for projects that will deliver high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms in order to reduce the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts. 

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