Visit Yebo Li’s Ohio State University lab anytime this spring and you will find an array of glass tubes filled with a light-green substance, endlessly bubbling inside a growth chamber. It’s algae. The same algae that later this summer will be growing in ponds at a Wooster farm, generating thousands of gallons of oil that will be turned into renewable fuel. Down the road, this green stuff may just be the building block of a new green industry in Ohio.
Li, a biosystems engineer with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center(OARDC), is working with West Virginia-based Touchstone Research Laboratory in the development of innovative technology for efficiently and profitably growing algae in open ponds for production of fuels and other high-value, bio-based products. Also partnering in this unique research and business-incubation venture is Cedar Lanes Farms, a nursery and greenhouse operation located just a few miles from OARDC’s Wooster campus.
Funded by close to $7 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, Touchstone will be testing this technology in four algae-producing ponds at Cedar Lane Farms — with an annual production capacity of some 2,000 gallons of oil, which will be turned into fuel. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
Read the full story here.