Not Your Average SOS: Research Methods to Respond to and Prevent Algae Crop Collapse

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


April 1, 2022

Not Your Average SOS: Research Methods to Respond to and Prevent Algae Crop Collapse 

Healthy, green algae next to brown, sickly algae

During a pond crash, algae rapidly turn from green and healthy to brown and sickly. Pictured here are example ponds (healthy and sickly) from the Algae Raceway Testbed at Sandia National Laboratories. Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

Algae are an exciting renewable feedstock for the future of sustainable fuels and products. One particularly interesting application, which the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is exploring, is the potential to turn algae into jet fuel precursors.

Lurking in or around every algae pond are pests—grazers and predators that have the potential to devastate the algae crop. Algae ponds have the potential to “crash” or be overtaken quickly because of these pests, turning from a healthy, vibrant green to sickly brown and dead in a matter of hours to days. This rapid deterioration poses significant challenges for the scale-up of algae production for the future.

What if there was technology to monitor and predict these pond crashes before they happen, giving pond operators time to deploy the right countermeasures? Learn how researchers at the Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories are listening to algae pond’s SOS.

Read more on the Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog.

BETO supports research, development, and demonstration to enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources for the production of biofuels and bioproducts.

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