May 29, 2008

EERC interested in Israeli algae project

The director of the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, based in Grand Forks, N.D., anticipates the center will soon enter into joint projects on algae for biodiesel as a result of a trip to Israel. “We are the first group to go to Israel to discuss a potential relationship related to the recently passed U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act and to initiate a partnership that could address opportunities and technologies of mutual interest to both nations,” said Gerald Groenewold, director of the EERC.

During the trip Carl Bauer, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private university in Israel, for cooperation on several energy projects – including carbon management technologies, alternative fuels development, hybrid energy systems and advanced materials for energy systems. Groenewold said that as a strategic partner with NETL, and therefore tied to the MOU automatically, the EERC will be involved in the development and demonstration of many of the technologies.

Israel is the most developed country in the eastern Mediterranean region and has a highly technological economy. Yet it also has limited commercial energy resources and faces many of the same energy and environmental issues as the United States. Using 17 power plants, the Israel Electricity Corp. generates nearly all of the country’s power using imported resources.

“IEC’s 2000-megawatt Ashkelon Power Plant, which we visited, ships in coal from 20 different locations worldwide to ensure security of its supply and to keep the power on for the population of Israel. This poses significant technological challenges,” Groenewold said. “The Ashkelon Plant is also one of several Israeli facilities that uses waste heat and CO2 from the plant to grow algae. The EERC is particularly interested in algae as a feedstock for production of alternative fuels and anticipates joint projects with the Israelis.”

Groenewold was invited to participate in the energy delegation to Israel. Other participants included: Bauer; Robert Dixon, senior coordinator for energy security and climate change with the Executive Office of the President; Raymond Hobbs, manager of the Future Fuels Program at Arizona Public Service; Tim McNulty, associate vice president for government affairs, and Andrew Gellman, head of chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University; and Scott Smouse, international group leader with NETL.

David Haberman, president of IF LCC, an expert in hydrogen and fuel cells, coordinated the visit. Isaac Berzin, an authority on algae-based technology production of biofuels, served as the delegation’s host during the weeklong visit. Eitan Yudilevich, executive director of the Israel–U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, cohosted the visit.

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