Charlie Bolden's BP Moment

NASA boss investigated for possible conflict of interest on biofuel project

"While millions of barrels of spilled oil choke the Gulf of Mexico, NASA is working on an ocean-based biofuels venture that could revolutionize clean-energy production at sea and treat wastewater at the same time. The scientist running the $10 million experiment, called Project OMEGA, uses words such as groundbreaking and exciting to describe his baby. But there's a hitch. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden doesn't believe in OMEGA -- and has sought to slow it down. The reason: He was advised against it by Marathon Oil -- the Texas-based company on whose board Bolden sat until he was named NASA administrator last year. The former astronaut and Marine Corps general also still holds as much as $1 million worth of Marathon stock. ...

... Bolden sat on the Marathon board from 2003 until last year, when President Barack Obama named him NASA administrator. When he left the board, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement, Bolden received Marathon stock equivalents valued at the time between $500,000 and $1 million. In a brief interview, Bolden confirmed that he still holds the Marathon stock but said that he does not think there was any conflict of interest in his reaching out to the company. He directed further questions to NASA's general counsel. "I am not supposed to talk to you [about this]," he said."

NASA Develops Algae Bioreactor as a Sustainable Energy Source, NASA

"As a clean energy alternative, NASA invented an algae photo-bioreactor that grows algae in municipal wastewater to produce biofuel and a variety of other products. The NASA bioreactor is an Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (OMEGA), which won't compete with agriculture for land, fertilizer, or freshwater. NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., licensed the patent-pending algae photo-bioreactor to Algae Systems, LLC, Carson City, Nev., which plans to develop and pilot the technology in Tampa Bay, Fla. The company plans to refine and integrate the NASA technology into biorefineries to produce renewable energy products, including diesel and jet fuel."

NASA bags algae, wastewater in bid for aviation fuel, NY Times

"NASA is applying space technology to a decidedly down-to-earth effort that links the production of algae-based fuel with an inexpensive method of sewage treatment. The space agency is growing algae for biofuel in plastic bags of sewage floating in the ocean."

Algae OMEGA, California Energy Commission

"The objective of this research is to improve and advance direct biosynthetic technologies that demonstrate the potential to supply transportation fuels for California in order to: ... Create new in-state fuel production options along with their associated economic development and employment opportunities."

Bolden at Center of NASA Biofuels Controversy [Orlando Sentinel], Space News

NASA Administrator Target Of Ethics Investigation,

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 20, 2010 12:28 PM.

This Week in Space - Griffin's Spin On Things was the previous entry in this blog.

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