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Aurora’s algae payoff: $50 a barrel.

March 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel, Algae-Energy-Companies

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Aurora Biofuels on Wednesday said that it has completed a successful trial of growing algae for biofuels and named former Royal Dutch Shell executive Robert Walsh CEO. The company has been running a test at growing algae in two outdoor ponds–each about as big as an Olympic-size swimming pool–in Florida for the past year and a half. 

Based on the results of that test, the company expects it can create a larger-scale demonstration facility that’s 50 acres in size late next year, said Walsh who joined Aurora Biofuels from biofuel company LS9. The company raised $20 million last July to build that planned plant. 

The biofuels industry has been hit particularly hard by the financial markets meltdown and recession. Several new technology companies are developing techniques for turning algae into fuel because it isn’t food and can grow in a wide range of conditions.

The challenge, though, is making and harvesting algae at large scale at a price that’s competitive with other feedstocks, such as palm oil or soybeans. Aurora Biofuels is using a combination of biotechnology and engineering techniques to bring the cost down, said Walsh.

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