Construction is underway at New Mexico State University’s Aggie Mountain facility, approximately one mile east of the main campus. Currently under construction are six “raceways”—circulated algae holding tanks—which will utilize the geothermal water source on the site. The raceways themselves range in length and width from 100 feet by 34 feet, to almost 37 feet by 11 feet 8 inches. Staff members from the Institute for Energy & the Environment (IEE) are utilizing the space for the growth and cultivation of various algal species.
The raceways, a phase of the algal biofuel project at IEE, will help researchers identify resilient, fast-growing strains of algae. The process begins in the IEE lab, and, once a hardy strain is identified there, it will be transferred to the raceways for larger scale tests which simulate real-world conditions. The right strain would allow researchers to develop a cost-effective, efficient, and renewable source of biofuel.
Originally built as the Geothermal Greenhouse Facility in 1985 and the Geothermal Aquaculture Facility in 1994, the facility has an upper level and lower level area. The space contains two 6,000-ft greenhouses and a 2,400-ft metal storage space, office and workshop. In addition, a smaller workshop and greenhouse are located on the property. The site is envisioned as an integrated water and energy center, a test bed for water and energy. The concept aims to have each element of the site provide energy/water for another element, using a combination of energy and water technologies with performance and functionality comparable, if not superior, to traditional sources of water and energy. Although still in conceptual stages, the implications of a realized version of the project are vast.
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