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Joint venture to use coal emissions to grow algae for biofuels

Two companies--one in Seattle, the other in Tel Aviv--are working together to use coal plant emissions to feed algae in order to create biofuels.

Algae's clout as a fuel feedstock seems to grow every day.

Inventure Chemical and Seambiotic announced this week a joint venture to create biofuels from algae fed by a coal-fired power plant.

An open pond for growing algae in Israel. Seambiotic

Based in Seattle, Inventure Chemical has a process for converting algae to either biodiesel, ethanol, or specialty chemicals. Seambiotic, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has developed an open-pond algae farming system that it is now testing in Israel.

The joint venture will grow algae using flue gas emissions from a power plant and use the resulting liquid fuel to power its operations or sell it.

In related news, the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) said Thursday that three airlines have joined the industry group.

The airlines--Air New Zealand, Continental, and Virgin Atlantic Airways--join biofuel technology developer UOP and existing member Boeing, which co-chairs the ABO.

There are a growing number of algae-to-energy ventures and projects. The advantage that algae has over other feedstocks is that farms won't compete for existing crop land and yields can be higher.

Still, the technology remains experimental and in the development phase.

One of the first companies to enter the algae business, GreenFuel Technologies, this week said that it has signed a deal for a large project in Europe and has a few more in the U.S. that it hopes to sign in the coming weeks.