By Duane Shimogawa
Hawaii BioEnergy LLC is getting $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for a Kauai-based biofuels energy project that will produce algae oil through a photosynthetic open pond system, the DOE said Thursday.
The project aims to demonstrate pre-processing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of extracting lipids and producing fuel intermediates.
The funding, which also went to projects in California and New Mexico, is part of the Energy Department's effort to break down technical barriers and accelerate the development of sustainable, affordable algae biofuels.
It says that the projects should help boost the productivity of sustainable algae, while cutting capital and operating costs of commercial-scale production.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, praised the Energy Department's announcement, which was made at its Biomass 2013 annual conference.
"Hawaii's renewable energy projects and our entrepreneurs are playing a vital role in making our state more energy secure and our economy more sustainable," Hirono said in a statement. "I have long been a strong supporter of legislation that invests in alternative energy development and am pleased that a Hawaii company has been awarded this important funding."
Honolulu-based Hawaii BioEnergy graced last week's headlines as it announced a signed agreement with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK) for the air carrier to buy biofuel for its planes, which could happen as soon fall 2018.