OriginOil 'milks' oil from algae

July 28, 2009 at 10:58 AM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, July 28 (UPI) -- U.S. company OriginOil, Inc. announced it successfully extracted algae oil on a continuous basis without cell destruction using a low-tech and simple approach.

OriginOil said this month that it had designed a system to control the type and amount of lighting used as algae grows to maturity in order to improve energy efficiency and growth rates.

Its latest breakthrough uses a so-called live extraction technology to "milk" algae on a continuous basis, meaning a single cell can produce oil through its entire life cycle using low-energy and low-cost methods.

"The challenge is how to keep the cells alive while continuously extracting the oil and we have achieved this" in lab-scale reactors, says Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil's chief executive.

Oil company giant Exxon Mobil announced in early July it has teamed with Synthetic Genomics to genetically engineer new strains of algae for biofuels.

Algae is expected to produce as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year, rivaling conventional biofuel sources.

"By integrating live extraction into our process, we are providing a technology platform for companies like Synthetic Genomics that are experimenting with genetic improvements," said Paul Reep, senior technical adviser to OriginOil.

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