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Images: Jet Fuel from Algae?

Greg O'Neil is lead author of a new study that demonstrates a way to produce two types of fuel—biodiesel and jet fuel—from a single algal species. O'Neil, a chemist at Western Washington University, collaborated with Chris Reddy, a chemist at Woods Hole Oceaongraphic Institution. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI chemist Chris Reddy collaborated with Greg O'Neil to investigate algal-based biofuels. O'Neil was a guest student in Reddy's lab in 2002. Now a chemistry professor at Western Washington University, O'Neil has been on sabbatical at WHOI in 2014-2015. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Algae contain fatty acids that can be converted into fatty acid methyl esters, or FAMEs, the molecules in biodiesel. FAMEs produce clear liquids that look like cooking oils. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Biofuel prospectors may have dismissed the algal species Isochrysis as a good feedstock for biodiesel because its oil is a dark, sludgy solid at room temperature. That's because Isochrysis also contain large compounds called alkenones, which are solids at room temperatures and mix with the oils. But new research has shown a way to break alkenones into smaller compounds used in jet fuel. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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