Tampa Bay taps into renewable energy from biomass and algae

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Biofuels study

In Tampa Bay, the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida (USF) is at the forefront of research into the commercialization of biofuels and bioproducts.

Associate professor Dr. George Philippidis, who is also a Steering Committee member for the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC) leads a team of researchers who are investigating the production of biofuels and bioproducts from renewable resources, such as algae, biomass, and vegetable oils. Their applied research focuses on closing the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace with emphasis on algae cultivation, biomass conversion to value-added products, and renewable biodiesel production. As Tampa Bay prepared to host the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo back in January, TBCCC sat down with Dr. Philippidis to discuss his research on algae- and biomass-derived biofuels and advances in the renewable fuel sector.

TBCCC: What makes your research unique?

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Dr. Philippidis: “Here at USF, the Biofuels and Bioproducts Lab focuses on the development of biofuels and bioproducts from two sustainable sources, algae and biomass. Our work involves developing the technologies needed to convert biomass (anything green), algae, and vegetable oils into fuels, products, and electricity. What differentiates our lab from labs elsewhere is our focus on applied research that helps bring clean technology ideas to the marketplace.

Dr. Philippidis
Dr. Philippidis speaks during a recent conference on the biofuels research.

TBCCC: Why is Florida is a good location for biofuels research and development?

Dr. Philippidis: “First of all, Florida has plenty of natural resources and an ideal climate for both algae and biomass. Actually, Florida is the number one state in annual generation of biomass in the country. “The climate is also a major factor. Florida has a combination of sun, high humidity levels, warm weather, and a significant amount of underutilized land. Also, thanks to its excellent geographic position, Florida has easy access to overseas markets though several major ports. Florida universities, such as USF, are leaders in renewable energy research. All these conditions make our state an excellent place for research, development, and entrepreneurship in the energy sector.”

USF biofuels research

TBCCC: What are some of the biggest changes you think we can expect to see in the renewable fuels and energy sectors?

Dr. Philippidis: “The Paris COP 21 emphasized the global concern about climate change, so knowing that renewable energy comes with a very low carbon footprint will definitely be a cornerstone for the green and sustainable economy of the future. I think great opportunities lie on this path.” For more information or to read the full interview, please visit this link.

USF biofuels research

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