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General Atomics to Harness the Power of Tiny Plants

General Atomics said Feb. 7 that it received a $4 million grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to support research into creating alternative fuels from algae. The privately held San Diego company will conduct the research in partnership with Texas AgriLife Research, part of the Texas A & M; University System.

The program will involve research into the development of promising algae strains and methods for testing algae production. The partners have already identified strains of algae with high oil-producing potential. These strains require large amounts of sunlight, salty water and carbon dioxide to thrive and produce oil. General Atomics said those three requirements are readily available in the Permian Basin region of west Texas.

General Atomics said an acre of algae has the potential to produce 150 times the oil yield of an acre of soybeans. The company cited one researcher’s estimate that 10 million acres of algae could supply all the transportation fuel needs of the United States.

, Brad Graves

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