General Atomics Opens Office in Carlsbad, NM to Create Biofuel From Algae

Jun 04, 2007

San Diego, CA. 4 June 2007. General Atomics (GA) of San Diego, California has opened an office in Carlsbad, New Mexico to develop biofuel from algae. GA is collaborating with the Carlsbad-based, not-for-profit Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management (CEHMM), which studies a wide range of issues related to reducing the impact of hazardous materials on the environment.

CEHMM is constructing outdoor ponds for growing salt-water microalgae on unused, non-arable land near Carlsbad. GA and CEHMM will work together to develop improved processes for growing and extracting oil from the algae. This oil will be used as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel, which can substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel. This would help reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and would reduce atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

Brine algae were chosen for this project because they can grow in inhospitable conditions in vast, arid areas of the US that can’t be used for other crops. They can tolerate the high temperatures, weather conditions, and high-salinity water of the desert southwest.

It is expected that an acre of algae will provide 150 times the oil yield that an acre of soybeans does. Researchers estimate that ~10 million acres of algae would supply all the transportation fuel needs for the US.

GA’s Advanced Process Systems Division Vice President, William Davison, stated “Microalgae represents a very exciting opportunity for a near-term solution to the country’s renewable goals, and our Division is committing significant resources towards development and demonstration of an economic application of this technology for biodiesel production.”

General Atomics, founded in 1955, specializes in diversified research, development, and manufacturing in energy, defense, and other advanced technologies. Affiliated manufacturing and commercial service companies include General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., which produces the Predator® family of unmanned aerial systems.

For further information contact:

Jim Elliott
Business Development Manager
Advanced Process Systems Division
(541) 382-2545

Doug Fouquet
Public Relations
(858) 455-2173

For photo, contact:
Nancy Hitchcox
Marketing Communications Manager
(858) 676-7161

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