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National algae testbed network raises the bar, aims to propel algae research and innovations across the country and the globe

The partners of the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) have established a network of testbed sites across the nation to meet the needs of the growing algae industry and research and development community across the country and around the globe. United, ATP3 leverages its network of diverse facilities and expertise offer services ranging from education and training, to research and development support, to biomass analysis and production, equipment testing and more.

During its first year, ATP3 set up standardized operations across the nation, with sites each hosting a set of six identical algae cultivation systems in different climatic regions: Arizona, Texas, California, Hawaii, Ohio, Florida and Georgia. Over the next several years, ATP3 will conduct harmonized, rigorous and objective long-term cultivation trials to provide a realistic assessment of the state of technology for algal based biofuels and biproducts. Data from these field studies will be widely distributed and made publically available to help ensure stakeholders are well informed and can make better business decisions.

“The ATP3 network is just what the algae field needs at this stage,” said Tryg Lundquist, a professor at Cal Poly State University and one of the partners with ATP3. “Prior to this effort, the variety of cultivation systems and analytical methods being used around the world generated results that were not straightforward to compare and evaluate. I think the ATP3 approach is going to save a lot of time and effort by the industry and, by decreasing uncertainty, ATP3 is providing a service for both the commercial and scientific communities.”

ATP3, the first ever national algae testbed network, was established in 2013 thanks to a $15 million US Energy Department (DOE) grant from the Bioenergy Technologies Office with additional sharing from partners.

With continued support from the DOE, ATP3 will move forward with leveraging the network of testbeds across the United States to serve the broader algae community and industry.

“Given the successes ATP3 has experienced in the past year, we believe they will continue to advance the algae industry by growing their partnership base and expanding their testbed site locations and abilities,” said Roxanne Dempsey, DOE technology manager.

In the coming year, ATP3 will utilize its network of industry and academic leaders to provide access to facilities and expertise in order to advance innovative algae research projects. As a part of the network’s mission, ATP3 will also work to develop a data sharing system to openly provide information from the cultivation trials and non-confidential experiments that are conducted at ATP3 partner sites.

Strategic areas for the next few years include:

  • Providing solutions for the algae industry, offering testing and validation of algae growth and processing technologies and access to facilities and expertise
  • Performing long-term cultivation trials to supply valuable data for LCA and TEA Mobilizing a Support Program to help innovators, academics and entrepreneurs advance their technologies through access to the testbed network
  • Providing ATP3 workshops that add value to a National Algae Education & Training program for workforce development
  • Exploring algae production as an economic driver for rural communities
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Members of the ATP3 team pose for a photograph while at the partner site, Sandia National Laboratories. Left to right (back row) Tom Dempster, Jeffrey Jacobs, Steve Mayfield, Amy Landis, Steve Schlosser, Todd Lane, Bill Brandt, David Hazlebeck, Craig Behnke, (3rd row) Ron Pate, Braden Crowe, Schonna Manning, Roxanne Dempsey; (2nd row) Brian Gordon, Jessica Cheng, Gary Dirks, Thomas Reichardt, Tryg Lundquist, Phil Pienkos, John McGowen; (front row) Milt Sommerfeld, Mark Segal, Jerry Brand, Val Smith, Valerie Harmon, Lieve Laurens, Yongsheng Chen.
Gary Dirks, ATP3 Director, sets the bar high as ATP3 aims to meet the needs of the algae industry worldwide.
Steve Schlosser (President, Florida Algae) presents algae farming solutions for low income regions while at a meeting at Sandia National Laboratories.