Algae for Bio-Fuels Could be on the Horizon for Imperial

By: Haley Burks
NewsWest 9 

Imperial, Texas, population 424, might be the shrimp farming capital of Texas, but shrimp farming is not what it used to be. This tiny town may still hold the key to the future of West Texas.

"It might be a strange place for a marine biologist but we have a whole ocean right under the soil," Shrimp farmer, Bard Reid, said.

That underground ocean is what brought marine biologist Bard Reid to Imperial 15 years ago to being shrimp farming.

"At one time we were harvesting 300,000 pounds of shrimp," Reid said.

Soon, the store in Imperial was swamped with people wanting a taste of West Texas shrimp.

"People came from Oregon, Mississippi to get some shrimp every year," Store Owner, DeAnn Crawford, said.

However this year could be the last year for shrimp farming.

"We just can't compete anymore with the international markets. I am going to try but it might be the last year," Reid said.

A crop of algae is what Reid is working on. He has backing from the Department of Energy and is in the process of researching two types of algae for possible bio-fuel. This is all part of a non profit project by the Organic Aquaculture Institute.

The future for shrimp farming is still murky, but growing algae or other sea life could be key for the future of Imperial.