As the algae industry gets closer to large-scale production, the skills to research the technology, build and operate algae farms, and harvest algal oils will be in high demand.
The U.S. Department of Energy tells the story of how the Crow Tribe in Montana is jumping on the skill-sets found in the algae industry to help spur local economic growth, education, and renewable supplies of domestically-produced energy.
Several DOE programs bring together regional universities, laboratories and companies such as Algal Biomass Organization member Accelergy to give students the opportunity to learn the new skills in a professional work setting.
One internship specifically devoted to algae places students in a laboratory setting, evaluating algae samples and their use in energy applications. The students focus on Accelergy’s technology that uses feedstocks such as coal or biomass from algae to produce transportation fuels. During last summer’s program, students collected algae at pond sites, built bioreactors to grow the algae, harvested the algae, and then freeze-dried their samples to check the algae for oil quantities that could be useful for Accelergy’s technology.
Students in this successful program are going on to related careers, and since tribal lands are often well-suited for algae cultivation it is likely many of them will be contributing to the industry in the near future.
More details about the program, and how it is being continued this summer, can be read in this DOE Techline.