On September 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $900,000 government grant to Utah State University (USU) and Montana State University for the team’s plan to grow species of algae that can thrive in geothermal vents and in the Great Salt Lake. This research is one of six biofuel projects throughout the country funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR), a Utah legislative initiative, sees so much promise in this, and other USU biofuel research, that USTAR has awarded the USU Biofuels Program $6 million for five years. USTAR makes highly-selective, strategic investments in research with the potential to benefit Utah’s economy. The goal of biofuel research is to find or develop a renewable fuel that is dependable and economically viable. Algae that consumes carbon dioxide could be used to consume the carbon dioxide released from power plants’ waste gases and the oils produced would be converted into fuel. Using algae in this way requires an algae that can tolerate the high temperature environment of a power plant and therefore the research team is growing an algae in geothermal vents. In addition, the team is hoping to produce biofuels from algae grown in a saltwater environment, such as our oceans and the Great Salt Lake, which would spare tapping more valuable fresh water resources. There is great interest in this research because algae is not subject to the same problems of other biofuels and may very well prove a viable fuel source. Algae doesn’t compete with corn or other crops for good farmland and its production wouldn’t drive up food costs. Algae can produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre. Any technological advances learned by this particular research is likely several years away, but USU plans to produce an algae-biodiesel that is cost-competitive by 2009.