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Biofuel Research at UC San Diego

June 24, 2014
A recent report by the US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) ranked programs at UC San Diego as the two best in the country for algal biofuels research, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography as top in the nation.

For the 28 Algae Technology Area projects reviewed by the panel, Mark Hildebrand and his team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego were ranked the highest for criteria that included technical progress, project relevance, and critical success factors. The report specifically cited the lab’s “outstanding research” in the genetic manipulation of algae to improve the yield of key growth components for biofuel production.

Coming in second was the UC San Diego Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (CAB-Comm) led by Stephen Mayfield. CAB-Comm was cited for demonstrating how the yield potential of algae can be preserved by controlling pests through development of resistant strains, use of chemical pesticides, and cultivation of consortia of strains.

BETO strategically supports bioenergy research that will reduce dependence on foreign oil, promote sustainable energy resources, establish a domestic bioenergy industry, and reduce carbon emissions from energy production and consumption.
“Scripps has a unique perspective in being able to apply long-standing interests in algae productivity in the oceans to the technological application of algal productivity for biofuels,” said Hildebrand.

“This review validates what many in the world have known for a long time; that UC San Diego and Scripps are at the epicenter of algae biotechnology, and at the forefront of research and innovation for developing renewable fuels and bio-products from algae” said Mayfield. “The BETO review also noted that CAB-Comm did an exceptional job of technology transfer to make the new genetic tools available to all researchers in the field,’ something that we at CAB-Comm view as essential in advancing algal research not only at UC San Diego, but for the entire world.”