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Algae-to-Biodiesel Research at ODU is Subject of Magazine Articles

Patrick Hatcher, the Old Dominion University geochemist who is executive director of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (VCERC), is a primary source for the article "Cultivating Algae in Wastewater for Biofuel" in the February issue of the national magazine BioCycle.

He also is quoted in the article "Creating Green Jobs" in the April issue of Virginia Business magazine.

The BioCycle article features a photo and a textual description of the one-acre algae-growing pond that ODU and VCERC have developed near Hopewell in central Virginia. Algae harvested from the pond is dried and converted in a small facility at the site into biodiesel fuel.

Hatcher told BioCycle about VCERC research into growing algae in wastewater to scrub it of excess nutrients. This could be a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way for wastewater treatment plants to meet ever tightening controls on their discharge of nitrogen, according to the article. "It costs three to four times more to remove nitrogen (by conventional means) than our projected costs for algae systems," Hatcher is quoted as saying.

The researcher, who is the university's Batten Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences, also describes in the BioCycle article the system he and his colleagues are testing to try to assure that oil-rich algae in an open pond are not overwhelmed by invading species. Enclosed tanks of water with oil-rich algae are situated alongside the pond and this water can be quickly pumped into the pond to overwhelm any invading species.

In the Virginia Business article, Hatcher explains the algal biomass and biodiesel work of ODU and VCERC and asserts that "Virginia is really well primed for an algae-to-biodiesel initiative." The article can be found at http://www.virginiabusiness.com/index.php/news/article/creating-green-jobs/199646/.

Hatcher told the Virginia magazine that an 1,000-acre algal biofuel project could create 30 to 40 high-tech jobs and produce an estimated 3 million gallons of biodiesel a year.

This article was posted on: April 15, 2009

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