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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Selection and Testing of Heterotrophic Algae and Fungal Strains for Growth on Papaya, Glycerol, Albizia, and Sugarcane Bagasse

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-014-09-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Dec 1, 2012
End Date: Aug 15, 2014

PBARC is implementing the ‘zero waste’ concept in which we make use of the agricultural and other waste feedstock to produce biofuels, feeds, and other value added products. In this specific cooperative agreement, we focus on using culled papaya fruit, glycerol, albizia wood, and sugarcane bagasse as the carbon source for heterotrophic oil-producing algae and fungi, and subsequently harvest the algae and fungi to extract oil and high protein meal. The oil would be the source for producing biodiesel or aviation fuel, and the meal as a component of animal feed. This project solely focuses on getting products to the oil and meal stage. The most important starting element of the project is to obtain algae or fungi that effectively use the above selected feedstock as carbon sources. To accomplish this phase, we will collaborate with BioTork, LLC which has a patented ‘evolugate’ process to rapidly select heterotrophic algae and fungi that can grow efficiently on targeted feedstock. These algae/fungi would be transferred to PBARC where personnel will determine the optimal conditions for growing the selected algae/fungi on the selected feedstock, characterize the oil and meal for their suitability as biofuel or animal feeds, and analyze the economics of producing the selected algae/fungi under mini-pilot scale.

PBARC does not have the expertise or process for rapidly selecting algae or fungi to feed on the identified feedstock. This agreement will continue the very successful collaboration between PBARC and BioTork that was started in a previous SCA. BioTork will collaborate with PBARC to select heterotrophic algae/fungal strains that grow on the feedstock, do preliminary characterization of these strains, such as rate growth on the feedstock, and then send the strains to PBARC. PBARC will grow the strains on quantities of feedstock, harvest the algae/fungi and extract and characterize the resulting oil and meal. The oil will be subsequently tested by a third party for their potential to produce biodiesel and advanced fuels. Another third party will test the meal in animal feeding studies. PBARC will scale up the production and analyze the economic feasibility for large scale production of algae/fungi oil and meal. PBARC and BioTork will continue their close collaboration to ensure the highest chance of success for this specific cooperative agreement.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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