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Imagine Tomorrow: Student Competition Leads to Innovative Biofuel Ideas

May 28, 2014 - 9:20am


Watch the video above to learn more about the Imagine Tomorrow competition.

Can you imagine if solar panels could be used to grow algae for fuel? Or if your morning coffee could not only get your day started, but also serve as a viable, plant-based source for biofuel? These are just a few of the award-winning innovative ideas that high school student teams came up with as part of the annual Imagine Tomorrow competition.

Imagine Tomorrow, a competition hosted by Washington State University, brings together teams from across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana to develop creative, well-researched solutions to complex energy challenges. Student teams select one of four topics to address, including biofuels. For example, Cascade High School solved its project challenge by using solar panels and four 85-liter tanks to cultivate algae for biofuel production. A Moscow High School team’s “unconventional biofuels” project involved not only demonstrating coffee extraction methods for biofuels production, but also featured a cost-benefit analysis, business plan, and environmental assessment.

This year’s Imagine Tomorrow competition is providing a new opportunity for student teams addressing the biofuels challenge topic. The Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) will select a team to present its project at the Biomass 2014 conference in Washington, D.C. this July.  Submissions are in, and the competition will culminate this weekend, with student teams pitching their projects to a panel of experts at Washington State University’s campus in Pullman.

The project selected to go to Biomass 2014 will align with BETO’s mission to develop commercially viable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower, as well as address one of BETO’s focus areas—feedstock supply and logistics, conversion technologies, or sustainability.

 “We’re really looking forward to having the future leaders of the bioeconomy coming to Biomass 2014,” said BETO Director Jonathan Male.

Check EERE Blog and Facebook for more coverage of the Imagine Tomorrow competition and learn more about how BETO is helping the bioenergy industry move our nation toward energy independence.