Breakthrough for algae, OriginOil says

July 17, 2009 at 3:45 PM
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LOS ANGELES, July 17 (UPI) -- U.S.-based OriginOil Inc. announced the development of a breakthrough technology to improve energy efficiency and growth rates for algae for biofuels.

OriginOil is working on technology to transform algae into a competitor to petroleum, noting much of the world's oil and gas reserves are derived from ancient deposits of algae.

The company said it has designed a dynamic control system to control the type and amount of lighting used as algae grows to maturity in order to improve energy efficiency and growth rates.

"We expect this study to yield a wealth of data about what works best in algae lighting," said Vikram Pattarkine, the chief technology officer for OriginOil.

The announcement comes as Exxon Mobil teams up with Synthetic Genomics on a $600 million partnership to genetically engineer new strains of algae for biofuels.

Exxon Mobil said algae could generate as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre each year, compared to the palm tree yield of 650 gallons and 450 gallons for sugar cane.

Riggs Eckelberry, the president and chief executive at OriginOil, welcomed the announcement from Exxon Mobil, saying it was in line with industrial developments.

"Our own focus is on building the industrial platform for producing any type of algae and we welcome large-scale research into new strains," he said.

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