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Puerto Rico testing tiny algae as energy source

Puerto Rico testing tiny algae as energy source

Puerto Rico is embarking on a test project for converting algae to oil as part of a campaign to lessen the U.S. territory's dependence on expensive imported oil.
A local company running the program that was announced Thursday said it expects to harvest eight types of algae from more than 2,000 acres (809 hectares) at an abandoned shrimp farm it is taking over in the northern coastal city of Dorado.
Puerto Rico's power company, the Electric Energy Authority, will mix the algae oil produced by the project with diesel and other types of fuel to produce electricity, agency spokesman Carlos Monroig said.
The goal is to produce more than 2 million gallons of oil a year.
"This is a first step," Monroig said. "We have to lower the price of fuel and power."
Puerto Rico depends on oil-fired power plants for 70 percent of its electricity, and the government has been seeking alternate energy sources, including natural gas.
Bio-Lipids of Puerto Rico, the company running the algae conversion project, said it expects to begin harvesting algae in four months and start extracting oil from the microorganisms in eight months.
Workers will infuse the algae fields with carbon dioxide gas extracted from the Bacardi rum company's fermentation process and from the state power authority's electricity plants.
Company CEO Jorge Gaskins said he has done small-scale algae projects in Brazil and the United States over the past six years.
The yearlong project is budgeted at $10 million, but the first phase is starting with $1.6 million.
Puerto Rico's energy authority has pledged $1 million, and $600,000 has been put up by the National Science Foundation, Bacardi and several universities, Gaskins said.


Updated : 2021-08-05 04:07 GMT+08:00