Montana State University researchers have discovered that baking soda can dramatically increase algae’s production of the key oil precursors for biodiesel.
When added at a particular time in the growing cycle, baking soda more than doubled the amount of oil produced in half the time in three different types of algae.
“It took a lot of work. I was pretty thrilled when it all came together,” Gardner said. “I’m still kind of in shock about it.”
Gardner is part of the team that developed the algal biofuel technology that MSU is now offering for licensing. Other members are longtime algae experts — Keith Cooksey, research professor emeritus in microbiology, and Brent Peyton, professor in chemical and biological engineering and associate director of MSU’s Thermal Biology Institute. Representing the College of Engineering and College of Letters and Science, all three belong to MSU’s Algal Biofuels Group, “one of the best cooperative research groups on campus,” according to Cooksey.