Researchers evaluate algae jet fuel

August 21, 2007

ASU researchers are part of a team led by UOP, a Honeywell company that is looking at alternative sources of oil that could be used to produce Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) or military jet fuel.

The goal of the project, which is backed by a $6.7 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to develop and commercialize a process to produce JP-8, which is used by U.S. and NATO militaries. Download Full Image

The ASU team in the School of Applied Arts and Sciences will lead an effort to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of using algae as an alternative feedstock resource. ASU’s researchers Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld will screen for oil-rich algal strains, evaluate their potential as oil producers and develop an algal feedstock production system that will yield competitively priced oil that can be converted into jet fuel.

Hu and Sommerfeld, who direct the Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology, have focused on algae as a source of renewable oil for more than 20 years. The benefits of oil produced from algae are endless, according to the ASU researchers.

“Algae are non-food/feed sources, so there is no inherent conflict of using food crop plants for fuel rather than for food,” say Hu and Sommerfeld. “Also, algae can be grown on land that is unsuitable for agriculture and can use saline or brackish water, making the algae feedstock production system complementary, rather than competitive, to existing agriculture.

“Moreover, since algae can use carbon dioxide from waste or flue gases as a nutrient for growth, an added value of algae feedstock production is environmental carbon sequestration.”

While algal oil is very similar to other vegetable oils in terms of fatty acid composition, the oil yield of algae is projected to be at least 100 times that of soybean per acre of land on an annual basis.

ASU, UOP, Honeywell Aerospace, Southwest Research Institute and Sandia National Laboratories researchers will be working to help develop and commercialize a process to produce jet fuel that is vegetable- or algal oil-based rather than petroleum-based.

“We are confident that we have assembled a strong team of experts that will be successful in proving the viability of biofeedstock technologies for JP-8 and other jet fuels, while offering the U.S. military another option for sustainable liquid fuels critical to their programs,” says Jennifer Holmgren, director of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit.

Fuel produced by the new process will have to meet stringent military specifications and is expected to achieve 90 percent energy efficiency for maximum conversion of feed to fuel, to reduce waste and to reduce production costs. UOP expects the technology will be viable for future use in the production of fuel for commercial jets.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

Singapore company to join SkySong

August 21, 2007

Representatives from Logical Steps, a Singapore-based Web applications company, visited Phoenix and met with numerous ASU officials in preparation for starting operations at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, when it opens later this year.

ASU’s Office of Economic Affairs played host to the visit of the company’s chief executive officer, Viswanath “Vish” Parameswaran, and co-founder and president Jason Sparks. Download Full Image

Logical Steps, founded in 2002, delivers new media platforms and content for immersive experiences. The firm is dedicated to leveraging the latest technologies and user-centric design principles to deliver Web, mobile, personal data assistant and desktop applications for marketing, learning, gaming or rich Internet application development. Of specific interest to the firm is data visualization, real-time data and framework creation for data visualization.

The company has a development center in India and aims to offer attractively priced, high-level Web-based software to the U.S. market.
“We look forward to starting business operations in the United States,” Parameswaran says. “We believe the support and opportunities offered by ASU, and the services available at SkySong, provide our company a decided advantage in entering the U.S. market.”

Logical Steps representatives met with numerous research and technology groups at ASU, including Applied Learning Technologies Institute (alt^I), ASU Technopolis, the School of Computing and Informatics, Technology Ventures Clinic, Technology Based Learning and Research (TBLR) and Partnership for Research in Spatial Modeling (PRISM). Tours of Decision Theater and SkySong also were included as part of their tour. Richard Franklin, director of the Enterprise Arizona Venture Center located at SkySong, coordinated the visit.

“Logical Steps’ location at SkySong demonstrates the appeal of ASU resources to international companies,” Franklin says. “As a tenant, Logical Steps can engage with ASU and other tenants to help bolster its research, product development and customization for the United States and other markets.”

The visit marked another step in the growing relationship between ASU and technology interests in Singapore. Following a delegation visit from the International Enterprise Singapore Wireless Mission to Scottsdale in March, Nate Summer, director of strategic marketing for SkySong, traveled to Singapore and met with several interested companies in April, including ST Consultancy, an educational software consulting firm, and Eye Power, an educational gaming company, both of which have formally signed a letters of intent to locate operations at Skysong. Aurigin Technologies, a builder of equipment for computer chip manufacturers, signed a letter of intent last fall.