Issues in algae biofuels will need 10-15 to resolve - US exec

03 March 2011 23:26  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--The algae biofuels industry will need 10-15 years before it can work out most of its technical problems, the co-founder of US-based Martek Biosciences said on Thursday.

“I predict that in the next year or two, there is going to be negative impacts on algae as many algae biofuel developers are promising short-term returns to their investors,” William Barclay said.

He was speaking at a Green Chemistry panel discussion hosted by the chemical marketing and economics group of the American Chemical Society.

Barclay also noted overspending in government funding for algae biofuels.

“The US government has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars in algae biofuels area too fast and too quick, and the industry wasn’t ready for it,” he said.

“I would say that a lot of the funding was wasted. It made small developments, but it needs more time and patience to develop," he said.

"There should be a smarter government funding for this area than what we are seeing now,” Barclay added.

Barclay said they started looking at biofuels in the mid 80s but proceeded instead to develop algae for nutritional food and beverage applications, which has become very profitable.

Martek has developed algae that produce oils rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a nutritional supplement.

Martek Biosciences has been working on algae-based biofuels in partnership with BP since August 2009.

Martek was recently acquired by Dutch chemical firm DSM for €790m ($1.10bn).

($1 = €0.72)

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemicals

By: Doris de Guzman
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