UA Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed (RAFT)
“Rapid advancements in biofuels science have reduced the cost per gallon from $400,000 to $6. Soon that number will be even lower, making it competitive with today’s fossil fuels. That’s a key step toward replacing gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in our cars, trucks and planes.” (Department of Energy, 2016).
Research at the UA for Biofuels is focused on the development of technically viable sustainable and cost effective algal feedstock production. The UA Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed (RAFT) research project is a $8 million DOE-funded project to create a long-term cultivation data necessary to understand and promote biomass production. By using outdoor testbeds, long-term algal cultivation data is gathered to develop best management practices, improve cultivation models and optimize biomass productivity using impaired waters. The project has yielded the development of real-time sensors and control strategies for efficient cultivation and culture diagnostics using molecular markers. Working with industrial, government and academic partners has advanced the algal and bio-products industry for commercialization.
The majority of the research will be done using UA's Algal Raceway Integrated Design, or ARID, system, which was designed and patented by Ogden's research partners Randy Ryan (retired), of the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station, part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Pete Waller and Murat Kacira, of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; and Perry Li, of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The research team also includes Judy Brown, a professor in the UA School of Plant Sciences. RAFT research project partners include: New Mexico State University, Texas A&M, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
- Long term algal cultivation data in outdoor pond testbeds and the development of Best Management Practices
- Real-time culture health and productivity monitoring
- Molecular diagnostics
- “Open-access” data management with the aim of increasing sustainability of algae biomass production
- Optimize biomass productivity using impaired waters
- Strain selection and crop rotation for year-round cultivation
- Improve and refine cultivation and techno-economic models, with focus on nutrient and water recycling
- Patents/Invention Disclosures
Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR)
With funding and support from USDA-NIFA, SBAR research focuses on guayule and guar as means to address the need for domestic bioproduct and biofuel production in the Southwest. Both plant species are suited to the climate of the arid southwest and viable options for feedstock development, feedstock production and co-products, and feasibility pathways for delivery, transport and ultimately commercialization.