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BGU and Primafuel Announce Exclusive Licensing Agreement for Algae-based Renewable Fuels

BGU and Primafuel Announce Exclusive Licensing Agreement for Algae-based Renewable Fuels

January 20, 2009

Alternative Energy, Business & Management, Press Releases

SEDE BOQER — January 20, 2009 — Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), a world leader in algae production commercialization, has announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar technology-licensing and development agreement with Primafuel, Inc., a California-based company that develops renewable fuels. 

The collaboration is focused on developing algae bio-refinery technologies for renewable fuels and high value co-products production.  

According to Ora Horovitz, vice president of BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “This takes advantage of BGU’s unique microalgal research capabilities to explore new commercial applications, as well as any biofuels and co-products technology developed in the future.

The technology, photobioreactor and strain selection were developed at the Landau Family Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at BGU’s Sede Boqer campus. 

The integrated team combines the University’s decades of microalgae expertise with Primafuel’s proprietary bio-refinery technologies.  Prof. Sammy Boussiba, an internationally-recognized expert in algae research and genetic engineering, heads the MBL, working with more than two dozen scientists, researchers and engineers.

“This is an exceptional opportunity,” explains Boussiba, who also currently serves as president of the International Society of Applied Phycology (ISAP).  “Algae research was once considered the fringe of the fringe, but finally, the world has come to see its incredible potential.” 

BGU has successfully commercialized algae production systems for the feed and pharmacological markets, and has also developed one of the world’s largest production photobioreactor systems at Kibbutz Ketura near Eilat, Israel.  Photobioreactors are large networks of transparent tubes filled with water and algae. The algae grow in sunlight.

“People are surprised that we can cultivate algae in the desert,” explains Prof. Boussiba, also the newly appointed director of the French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands at BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. “But it’s actually a green environment for growing algae. We have a lot of brackish water and sunshine. Plus, land is not expensive, and we’re remote from people and industry so we can avoid pollution.”

Boussiba has been working on the scientific challenges of turning algae into fuel since the mid 1980s, when the U.S. Department of Energy assigned the lab a project to evaluate micro algae as a source of lipids.

About Primafuel

Primafuel’s international team of award-winning technology experts deliver renewable fuels and high-value products to meet the world’s rapidly growing need for sustainable energy, chemicals and materials. Recent awards include a 2008 Technology Pioneer Award from the World Economic Forum, a 2008 Achievement Award from Biofuels Digest, and a ranking in the Hottest 50 Companies in Bioenergy.  Privately-held and based in California, the company has operations in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: www.primafuel.com.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications