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San Diego Program Will Train A Biofuel Workforce

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The San Diego Biofuels Initiative has gotten a $4 million state grant to train biofuel workers.

— The San Diego Biofuels Initiative has gotten a $4 million state grant to train biofuel workers.

Most biofuel produced today is corn-based ethanol, but several San Diego companies are working to convert algae into fuel, a process they say is more productive and requires less energy. The biofuel industry will eventually need farms, refineries and skilled workers.

"We really need to plan for success," said Steve Mayfield, a biology professor at UCSD and a founder of the company Saffire Energy.

"Look, if we wait two or three years and then decide 'Oh look, these are successful,' and then start to develop a training program, we're going to be behind," he said.

Mayfield said the state-funded training program will train people to do work in research and at biofuel refineries that are already being built by San Diego companies. He said the Biofuels Initiative will develop a curriculum for use by universities and community colleges.

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