Phoenix this week hosted the 4th Annual Algae Biomass Summit (Summit), a three-day event organized by the Minneapolis-based Algal Biomass Organization (ABO). Over 600 researchers, developers, and other interested constituents from 27 countries, attended the Summit, which took place Sept. 28-30. The ABO selected Arizona as the location for the Summit due to the state’s emergence as a "hotbed for research on algae."

Algae are a primitive form of plant life that secrete oil in their cells. This oil can be extracted and used as fuel, due to its similarity to crude oil. Arizona's abundant sunshine, warm climate, and available land, which make large-scale solar energy so promising, also define the state as an ideal location for developing algae biofuels. Arizona State University is at the forefront of algal research. Scientists at ASU played a major role in discovering oil-rich algae strains and claim to be three to five years away from large-scale algae production, which would pave the way for algal biofuel to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels. ASU researchers are also working to find new extraction methods. On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Gov. Jan Brewer announced a grant of $2 million for the development of a new Arizona Center for Algae Technologies and Innovations.

The Arizona Republic has an informative article here.