Algae and wastewater mix to make power results

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A University of Merced graduate student hates "waste" in wastewater, and is looking for ways to use it to create algae, a biofuel.

Patrick Wiley's interest in wastewater began in his home state of Maine, and then expanded into his study of renewable fuel sources, according to this story out of UC Merced. Algae grows naturally in wastewater and, through photosynthesis can be used for biofuel.

Wiley's studies led him to the master's program at Humboldt State University and then to UC Merced, where he is teaming up with Professor Elliott Campbell, who shares his interest in biofuels.

This is what Elliott told us: "The synergistic opportunity that is most apparent to me for the Valley is between wastewater and algae biofuels. Finding cost effective ways to produce algae biofuels is a real challenge. The San Joaquin Valley may be a good place to think about economic solutions where existing algae wastewater ponds can be combined with algae biofuels production."

Wiley will work in Santa Cruz cultivating algae in ocean-floating bags and with a UC Berkeley group that is developing ways to generate power with algae.

We are so fortunate to have UC Merced in our Valley, and look forward to hearing more from Wiley and other students at the university. Thanks to them, the San Joaquin Valley, which has low incomes, high power bills and is ideally suited to benefit from and develop clean energy, could someday be the standard-bearer for clean and alternative energy.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.