Algae production facilities. (Photo: OrigiOil)
Govt will fund algae biofuels programme
Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
OriginOil, Inc has announced that its research partner in Japan will receive government funding for an ambitious algae biofuel programme to provide renewable fuels and help eliminate radioactive materials, for which it intends to use OriginOil algae harvesting technology.
Dr Takaaki Maekawa, president of the Research Institute of Tsukuba Bio-tech (RITB) and Professor Emeritus at Tsukuba University near Tokyo, has confirmed receiving the grant approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to build 1-ac sites to prove biofuels production and toxic remediation using algae. Dr Maekawa has made plans to employ OriginOil algae harvesting technology in programmes funded by this grant and by private investors, potentially expanding to 100 sites or more.
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government has made the development of renewable energy a top budgetary priority. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget has placed no limit on reconstruction expenses following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Algae production has the unique potential to both provide renewable fuels and also help eliminate radioactive materials from contaminated lands.
Algae has been shown to absorb radioactive cesium, a contaminant that can cause radiation sickness and death. In a recent test by the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), a strain of microalgae successfully removed nearly 90 per cent of all radioactive material from cesium-contaminated water.
Dr Maekawa’s company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OriginOil to develop and distribute algae systems in Japan in 2009. With the new funding, he plans to collaborate closely with OriginOil to integrate its harvesting technology into the new systems.
According to Dr Maekawa, the Ministry has approved initial funding for two initial sites, each more than an acre in size. One is planned to be situated near Narita International Airport and the other in Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear accident.