5 Companies Making Fuel From Algae NowUbiquitous and easy to grow, algae has long been a promising biomass-to-fuel candidate in the eyes of researchers. Now algae is a burgeoning sector in biofuels with several high-profile start-ups, including Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics, and the interest of big-time investors like Bill Gates and ExxonMobil. Of course, hurdles still exist to make a competitive fuel. Algal biofuels still cost too much to produce—over $8 a gallon pdf, according to the DOE. Furthermore, most existing strains do not yield oil in the quantities needed to quickly scale up to commercial production of biofuels. Companies also need to worry about contaminating local ecosystems and the amount of water needed to grow cultures in large batches. Despite these challenges inroads—and actual fuel—are being made in the nascent field. Here are 5 projects leading the pack today.
50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy: Special Voter’s Report on Algae – company updates – Biofuels DIgest : Biofuels Digest – biofuels, biodiesel, ethanol, algae, jatropha, green gasoline, green diesel, and biocrude daily newsNovember 17th, 2009 No comments »
Probably an interesting report to get hold of.
PetroAlgae is making fuel and proteins out of lemna (duckweed) in Fellsmere, and is nearing completion of a vertically integrated, scaleable, licensable 5-6,000 gallon per acre microcrop production system. A first master licensee has been announced for China, Taiwan and part of Japan. More on petroalgae at biofuelsdigest.com.
Sapphire Energy said the pace of algae commercialization is increasing and that it will reach commercial scale by 2011, and producing 1 Mgy of diesel and jet fuel from algae that year, double its previous estimate.
Solazyme is selling fuel to the US Navy and the US Air Force – nearly 50,000 gallons in total at a reported cost of $32 per gallon. Life Cycle Associates found that Soladiesel’s full lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 85 to 93 percent lower than standard petroleum based ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). More on Solazyme at biofuelsdigest.com.
Synthetic Genomics signed a $600 million R&D deal with ExxonMobil. Half the proceeds will go to SG based on a staged-gate release of funds for meeting undisclosed milestones. More on Synthetic Genomics at biofuelsdigest.com.
BP has signed an R&D partnership with Martek, the leading developer of algae for nutraceutical markets. More on BP at biofuelsdigest.com.
Algenol has signed a $70 million partnership with Dow Chemical for its algae-to-ethanol process, and will establish a project site in Texas at a Dow location. More on Algenol at biofuelsdigest.com.
Solix has opened a pilot-scale plant in Durango, Colorado, partly financed by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. More on Solix at biofuelsdigest.com.
via 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy: Special Voter’s Report on Algae – company updates – Biofuels DIgest : Biofuels Digest – biofuels, biodiesel, ethanol, algae, jatropha, green gasoline, green diesel, and biocrude daily news.
Company to check:
Algaewheel has developed the algaewheel® technology for use in a variety of applications including renewable energy, wastewater treatment, carbon sequestration, aquaculture, and more. Our technology answers the demand for a dependable supply of algae biomass for many different purposes, many of which have yet to be defined. Bio-plastics, bio-fabrics, pharmaceuticals, nutritional applications, and many more industries await a cost effective means of producing algae biomass and Algaewheel is prepared to provide real solutions for such markets. The low energy cost and minimal maintenance requirements of our system enhance any commercial scale algae production model. We provide manufacturing of the algaewheel system and provide engineering support in order to ensure that our system is efficiently integrated to fit your needs.
Company/initiative to check
Trent (OMEGA) Algae: This a developing OMEGA effort, led by Jonathan Trent of NASA, to make algae biofuel in a renewable energy process that will clean up sewage currently being dumped into the world’s oceans. There is also the potential that electrical power generation could be connected to the fuel production. (OMEGA Algae is still in testing, but is a great example of the looming Win to the Sixth opportunities there for the taking … if we would only choose to seize them.)
The article starts out in a somewhat comic fashion but has some interesting thoughts on strain selection towards the end.
The Sapphire approach to finding the right “bunny” – amidst tens of thousands of microalgal species, and potentially an infinite number of strains: an industrial biotech approach to R&D: equal parts of discipline, throughput, and sense of adventure.
via Sapphire Energy: the making of algae that reproduce strong, last long – Biofuels DIgest : Biofuels Digest – biofuels, biodiesel, ethanol, algae, jatropha, green gasoline, green diesel, and biocrude daily news.
As part of a project to create alternative sources of energy, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are cultivating green algae that holds promise as a new supply of biofuel.“People have been growing algae for centuries for food supplements for use by man and animals,” said Cecelia Williams, project lead. “It now has the potential to supply our energy needs too.” Beginning in the 1950s, the Department of Energy recognized algae as a potential feedstock for energy and biofuels and funded the Aquatic Species Program between 1978 and 1996 with $25 million to investigate the production of biofuel from microalgae. DOE terminated the program in the mid-1990s due to low petroleum prices and other priorities. It has only been in the last few years that DOE has once again become interested in algae as a potential source of fuel.Recently Williams and other Sandia researchers have grown green algae in a 12-by-30-foot greenhouse using a simulated dairy effluent, the nutrient-rich liquid remaining after bacterial digestion of dairy manure. The solids from the digestion of dairy manure can potentially be used to develop fertilizer and feed and the liquid serves as a nutrient source for algae. The algae are typically cultured for several days, followed by harvesting and dewatering, after which the algal oil is extracted. The algae produce lipids, the most useful being neutral oil made up largely of triacyglycerides TAG that can be converted to biofuels.
One way to wean ourselves from oil is to come up with renewable sources of transportation fuel. That means a new generation of biofuels made from nonfood crops.
Researchers are devising ways to turn lumber and crop wastes, garbage and inedible perennials like switchgrass into competitively priced fuels. But the most promising next-generation biofuel comes from algae.
There was a recent Wall Street Journal article about “5 Technologies that could change everything.” One they included was biofuels from Algae. People have been working on this for a long time including a very long government effort. The great thing about algae is that you can grow it in places and with water sources that are completely unsuitable for farming. Algae can be extremely productive. The problem is that the low capital investment systems are less productive and the highly productive, “bio-reactor” approach has a huge capital cost. The good news is that there are enough companies working away on this that sooner or later there might be a break-through. I won’t pretend to be an expert on how this is going, but I have a hunch it will eventually become significant.
One of the comments are just hilarious: It will neither be like Big Oil nor like Big Agriculture. It will be like Lehman Brothers… Says it all. Hope it is wrong!
Hundreds of companies and laboratories are racing to find an economical way to make “green crude” from algae. The biofuel industry is grappling with a series of hurdles, which players readily recognized at a summit this week in San Diego and we cover in this story.
One question asked by one of the sector’s early leaders is will biofuel from algae look like Big Oil or Big Agriculture.