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U-M researchers land $2M grant to 'cooperate with nature' on growing algae for energy
Date:7/31/2013

ghput screening technologies to "bio-prospect" for microorganisms associated with biochemical or biomedical applications. For the algae project, she is modifying various laboratory techniques so the team can expand the search for multispecies assemblages that exhibit high yields and efficient waste recycling.

By reconfiguring a device her lab originally developed for use with bacteria, Lin should be able to screen more than a million algal species combinations. A $60,000 grant from MCubed, U-M's one-of-a-kind seed grant program, funded a collaboration between Lin and Cardinale that yielded vital preliminary data that was included in the National Science Foundation proposal.

"If, as we propose, it is possible to engineer naturally diverse communities of algae to enhance the efficiency, yield and stability of yields, then the development of multispecies photosynthetic biorefineries would indeed represent a 'win-win' scenario for biodiversity conservation and energy production in the next century," Lin said.

UC-Santa Barbara's Oakley is an evolutionary biologist who analyzes differences in gene expression among species, and the functional differences that result. He will lead the effort to use high-throughput sequencing technologies to quantify every expressed gene in the various algal combinations. That will enable the researchers to determine how the production of biocrude correlates with the expression of any known gene.

The four-year project will culminate in a conceptual design followed by a life-cycle assessment. The conceptual design will examine all aspects of a multispecies algal biorefinery, from algae cultivation to biocrude production. It will determine the size needed for the facility and will estimate the capital and operating costs, which in turn will show the conditions required to make the biorefinery profitable.

The life-cycle assessment will measure the various environmental impacts attributable to all act
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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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