During the oil crisis of the 1970s, Congress funded the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) within the Department of Energy to investigate alternative fuels and energy sources. The Aquatic Species Program (ASP) focused on the production of biodiesel from high lipid-content algae growing in outdoor ponds. These programs also used carbon-dioxide from coal fired plants to increase the growth rate and lipid content of algae. They estimated that under optimum growing conditions micro-algae will produce up to 4 lbs./sq. ft./year or15,000 gallons of oil/acre/year. Micro-algae are the fastest growing photosynthesizing organisms. They can complete an entire growing cycle every few days.