Microbial researchers turned algae farmers - Energy Factor
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Microbial researchers turned algae farmers

Vijay Swarup - 03/12/2018

Last week we announced an exciting new step in developing scalable biofuels from algae that could lead to the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025.

The new phase of research includes an outdoor field study that will grow naturally occurring algae in several contained ponds in California.

In other words, our researchers will soon become energy farmers.

The lead-up to this move involved teams of scientists from Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) and ExxonMobil working to understand algae growth characteristics. We’ve worked closely for several years to develop algae strains for improved photosynthetic efficiency and potential future oil production.

The move to the ponds in California is a chance for a test drive in the great outdoors— to see how much we can grow, and under what conditions.

In that way, we’re not too different from farmers. Space is precious to a farmer, in that every acre and row should yield the greatest harvest, cultivated in the most energy-efficient manner.

Efficiency — doing more with less — is what drives us every day in tackling the world’s energy challenges. That often starts under the microscope in a lab. Where those findings take you is never the same path.

Sometimes they even lead to an algae farm in California.

Vijay Swarup is Vice President of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. 

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