The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative draws the connection between diversified agriculture and local renewable energy production for on farm and community use. Aiming to supply farm inputs and reduce fossil fuel consumption, this program supports research, technical assistance, and infrastructure development in emerging areas of bioenergy. Since 2003 the program has focused on biodiesel production and distribution for heating and transportation, oil crops for on-farm biodiesel and feed, grass for heating, and algae for biofuels and wastewater management.
With funding from the US Department of Energy secured by US Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative has supported a number of algae to biofuel research projects. This early-stage research and development is determining the most viable and cost-effective methods for accessing algae’s commercial potential to produce clean renewable energy while treating wastewater and supplying nutrient-rich feeds and food.
Dr. Anju Dahiya, president of General Systems Research (GSR) Solutions, a recipient of grant funds from the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative, has been looking for high lipid algae strains, and scaling those up to a level that could be available for commercial use, especially for biofuels.
“At GSR Solutions, we are looking at producing algae not just for biofuels, but combining it with waste water treatment and to produce other valued byproducts as well. This is very significant, because this would make algae production cost-effective. This would also help in nutrient recovery,” says Dahiya.
GSR Solutions will be assessing the feasibility of growing oleaginous algae strains in the company’s private lab in Burlington for up scaling with waste streams from dairy farms and breweries. These strains will create a biodiesel product that is interchangeable with home heating oil, diesel, and jet fuel. In addition, the process can produce an organic fertilizer that can substitute for imported synthetic versions.
For more on the potential for algae to produce biofuels and other products here in Vermont, including videos, reports, an image gallery, and helpful links, visit www.vermontbioenergy.com/algae.
Photo credit: GSR Solutions