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ASU biofuel research part of $10M Department of Energy funding

Two projects to focus on algae, cyanobacteria


May 16, 2016

Two Arizona State University biofuel projects are among six nationwide receiving $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore innovative solutions in bioenergy.

The six projects will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office's work to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from non-food biomass feedstock. This funding will also support the development of a more robust bioeconomy, which can create green jobs, spur innovation, improve the environment and achieve national energy security.  Test tubes of algae. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

ASU’s research projects approach the question from two different angles:

  • Algae: This project will develop mixotrophic algae that can consume both CO2 and cellulosic sugars and significantly improve algal biomass growth. These heat-tolerant strains will be grown in photobioreactors, potentially reducing evaporation and eliminating the need for cooling. The potential could reach five times the current algal production rates — which would significantly reduce the cost of enclosed algal cultivation systems and will boost total fuel potential, especially in the Southwestern United States.
  • Cyanobacteria: This project will engineer cyanobacteria for the production of ethyl laurate, which is easily converted to "drop-in" ready (that is, compatible with existing infrastructure) biofuels or bioproducts. This uses carbon dioxide (CO2), water and light as the main inputs, and does not waste carbon and energy by limiting the amount of biomass produced. This is a “one-stop-shop” cyanobacterial platform that generates liquid transportation fuel from CO2 and water with sunlight as the energy input. The proposed project is expected to lead to an economically competitive yield of an immediate biofuel produced directly from CO2 under the influence of sunlight.

Also in cyanobacteria news this week, ASU is host to an international workshop exploring the latest research in the field May 19-22 in Tempe. The event is focused on providing young scientists with the opportunity to present and discuss their work. Keynote lectures, providing a broader overview, will be giving by Shota Atsumi, University of California – Davis; Devaki Bhaya, Carnegie Institution for Science; Cheryl Kerfeld, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory / Michigan State University; Jack Meeks, University of California – Davis; and Himadri Pakrasi, Washington University.

Read more about other algae research at ASU here.

ASU, Draper University to partner on cutting-edge entrepreneurial program


May 17, 2016

Draper University and Arizona State University announced today that they are partnering to launch what they expect to be the No. 1 entrepreneurial program in the country.

The Draper/ASU Entrepreneurial Program will combine Draper University’s innovations in education for entrepreneurs with ASU’s entrepreneurial curriculum and access to a large group of talented students. The program will offer the most exciting and the most practical academic experience in entrepreneurship, culminating in a business plan competition. The program will offer the most exciting and practical academic experience in entrepreneurship, culminating in a business plan competition, where Tim Draper — who founded Draper University — will invest at least $1 million. Download Full Image

The residential program will run for nine months starting this fall and will be held at Draper University in San Mateo, California. The program will combine Draper’s signature “Hero Training” and out-of-the-box teaching methods with ASU’s outstanding content.

The curriculum will include forward-thinking simulations, headline speakers, “Survival Training,” team challenges, and hack-a-thons. Key coverage areas will be finance and empowerment, design and coding, robomarketing and growth hacking. The final module of the program will be titled, “Go!!!” and will include personal mentorship and career guidance.

“We are thrilled to be working with ASU,” said Draper. “Our program will be enhanced by ASU’s full curriculum combined with their expertise in scaling. Because of ASU, more and more students will learn the challenges and excitement of starting a business.”

Amy Hillman, dean of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, called the new partnership “a fantastic combination of academics and practical application of entrepreneurial lessons.”

“Draper U is an innovator in real-world education, and we are a highly ranked creative business school grounded in research,” she said. “Our students will have the best of both worlds, and they will emerge from the experience stronger and better prepared for the modern economy.”

The Draper/ASU Entrepreneurial Program is accepting applications for the pilot program, which starts Sept. 26. Apply at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/draper (ASU students) or http://www.draperuniversity.com/masters/ (non-ASU students). Applications will be read on a rolling basis; the deadline to apply is Aug. 12.