At the "Algae-to-Energy in the South" regional summit held in St. Louis, academic and industry experts from ten states reported on the wide range of algae based research underway around the country. Projects range from improving algae's ability to capture solar energy, to identifying best practices for removing oil from algae. Research touches on every aspect of algae and recognizes the vast opportunities for growth, improvement and eventually commercialization. The Center for Evergreen Energy, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and the Southern Growth Polices Board hosted the event.
One of the reports focused on the development of a non-destructive oil extraction process, sometimes referred to as "milking the algae," that is capable of continuously removing oil from living algal cultures. The program is considering what strains perform best and how the process may benefit production efficiency by removal of contaminants.
Dr. Richard Sayre, Director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels, explained that oil based fuels, such as biodiesel, have many benefits. They boast twice the energy density of alcohol; oil producing plants have reduced impact on the environment; and algae based biodiesel can be produced on land not suitable for other uses and result in higher oil per acre than currently available.