Algae Research Moving Forward in Reeves County

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

REEVES CO. - The future is on the horizon for researchers in Reeves County. Workers are moving forward with a plant-like algae that could one day be used to power your car. On Wednesday, NewsWest 9 traveled to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center outside of Pecos to find out how that Algae is used.

"This has got a lot of potential," Research Associate Louis Brown, explained. "It's not going to save the world in the next year. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done."

Brown keeps himself pretty busy during the day. With summer almost here, he's is testing for the perfect kind of algae using equipment both inside and outside the center's main building. While it may just look like swamp-goo, Brown said these ponds are worth much more.

"So, let's say we were to harvest this pond. We could get biodiesel out of it. We could gleserine out of it, and then the protein that's left over could then be turned around and used as cattle feed," Brown said.

In fact, the algae research is worth multiple technology grants that has transformed this center in less than a year.

"When we got here [in March of 2008], this place was a blank slate, and we've kinda been able to ajust it as we go along," Brown added.

Brown said their work in Reeves County isn't ready for mass production of diesel fuel. On a smaller scale, researchers test different types of algae inside under set conditions. Then, eventually, when the algae is ready, they bring it outside to the ponds.

"We are trying to identify some of those algae that will grow really well here in our particular well water, with this particular amount of light," Brown said. "Then also give us the right kind of oil, an appropriate amount of oil to make this all profitable in the end."

Even with the progress that is being made with the algae ponds, researchers said there is still plenty of room for growth. They said the conditions are just right in West Texas, and they said those expansion plans are in the works. They add there's plenty of room for more algae ponds.

"I think currently we're tracking on the appropriate way to get those answers that a lot of people have," Brown explained. "Is this profitable? Is this going to lower gas prices? We get a lot of those questions. This isn't the end all, be all, but it's a step in the process that will make that a reality in the future."

In this case, something that starts small, may lead to something much bigger.