Development of a Sustainable Production Platform for Renewable Petroleum Based Oils in Algae

Grants and Contracts Details


The primary objective of the current application is to genetically engineer algae for the production of renewable and ecologically sustainable petroleum grade oils that are suitable for processing into combustible fuels (octanes suitable for internal combustible engines) and other petroleum-based products. The proposed work leverages our recent success in isolating the genes coding for the biosynthesis of rather unique branched-chain, unsaturated hydrocarbons (methylated triterpenes), and the development of novel tools to engineer metabolic shunts for high-level terpene production in terrestrial plants. Our specific aims are to fully characterize these unique triterpene biosynthetic enzymes, to assess the capacity of transgenic algae engineered with the respective genes for their ability to accumulate high-levels of the corresponding petroleum-based oils, and finally to evaluate bioreactor design and operational strategies for growing high density algal cultures and improving the capture efficiency for solar radiation. The proposed collaborative research brings together genetic engineering proof-of-principle with novel process engineering advances in algae culture required to evaluate these alterative platforms of agri-culture and alga-culture for commodity-scale displacement of fossil fuels with renewable, green-house-gas neutral biofuels.
Effective start/end date11/1/0810/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $249,925.00


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