May 5, 2009

Long Island Sound scum may be biofuel

Connecticut scientists have focused on algae from Long Island Sound in their quest for native environmentally friendly biofuels.

The Hartford Courant reported Tuesday researchers at the University of New Haven have joined universities and private enterprises in the nationwide race to find cost-effective biofuel sources.

We're trying to find the Connecticut feedstock, said Carmella Cuomo, the university's associate professor heading the team of algae researchers.

The university hopes by cultivating algae gleaned from the water it can lessen the dependence on corn and soy products. Those crops use too much traditional fuel to transport raw products to biofuel processing factories.

The first generation of biofuels was unsustainable," said Richard Parnas, the University of Connecticut's chemical engineering director and head of the university's biofuels program.

Unsustainability prompted research in alternative fuel sources, such as algae. Algae-based biodiesel companies raised $195 million in investments last year, Cleantech Group, a data-gathering company for the industry, reported.

Research investment in second-generation biofuels increased last year to $600 million, up from $139 million in 2007.