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Irish facility moves towards commercial algae production for biofuels

The Daithi O’Mhurchu Marine Research Station in County Cork, Ireland is set to become the country’s first commercial algae production facility for biofuel.

The facility has been experimenting with algae growth for three years and is funded by a Marie Curie grant from the EU. The grant is due to expire next year and has pushed the decision to commercial production to the fore.

The research station has been focusing on working with productive oil strains conducive to Irish conditions.

‘All you need for algae is light and Ireland has proven to have some excellent advantages for algae growth. First of all, we're not too hot, like some of those countries which have thus far been leading the field,’ project manager Julie Maguire was quoted as saying. ‘Also, because of our geographical positioning, we can benefit from longer hours of daylight and be more equipped for algae growth than many countries through the summer months.’

Maguire believes the main obstacles remaining are finding more efficient ways of harvesting the algae and encouraging growth in winter months.

"We aim to grow, harvest and process the fuel on-site. So the processing work to make the biofuel can be done in the darker months,’ she adds.