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Establishment and Characterization of a Bioenergy-Focused Microalgal Strain Collection

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Colorado School of Mines

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High lipid strain from NREL culture collection. Photo by Lee Elliott, Colorado School of Mines<br />
High lipid strain from NREL culture collection. Photo by Lee Elliott, Colorado School of Mines

Technology Marketing Summary


Microalgae—photosynthetic microorganisms capable of converting atmospheric CO2 to biomass and oil—offer great promise to contribute a significant portion to our renewable fuels and meet the mandate to dramatically reduce our dependence on the world’s dwindling natural energy resources.

Despite its huge potential, the technology of using microalgae as biomass feedstocks for advanced biofuels faces major challenges from both technical and economic barriers. These include developing suitable algal strains and cultivation parameters, developing processes to harvest the biomass and extract the oils, and rendering the entire process economical.




Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in conjunction with the Colorado School of Mines have established a bioenergy focused strain collection. High-throughput technologies were used to discover new novel microalgae strains that can be used for biofuel and bioproduct applications. More than 400 microalgal strains have been generated using novel strain isolation methods and a culture collection that was screened and catalogued, and isolates with high-growth and lipid-accumulation properties were cultivated at larger scales. The culture collection spans strains from the southwestern United States to isolates from northern latitudes, including marine, fresh-water, and hyper-saline environments.




·        Cryopreserved for long-term storage

·        Samples from a wide range of salinities

·        Ideally suited for large scale cultivation in southwestern United States


Applications and Industries


·        Biofuels

·        Bioproducts


Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 11-109DevelopmentAvailable02/05/201602/05/2016

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To: Eric Payne<>