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Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Postby renga » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:05 am

Bill Gates' investment firm is funding Sapphire Energy, a company that intends to make auto fuel from algae.

Sapphire Energy said Wednesday that a series B round will bring the total amount it has raised to more than $100 million. Investors include Gates' investment firm Cascade Investment, as well as Arch Venture Partners, Wellcome Trust, and Venrock.

Green crude gasoline from algae

The lowly algae is the renewable fuel industry's great green hope. Because algae is rich in oil and can grow in a wide range of conditions, many companies are betting that it can create fuels or other chemicals cheaper than existing feedstocks.

So far, no company has made cost-competitive fuel at large scale from algae. But a handful predict they will within three years.

San Diego-based Sapphire Energy said last year that it has successfully made its product, Green Crude, which yielded 91 octane gasoline from algae.

Its process can use algae to yield a range of fuels, including the chemical equivalents of gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel. It has a test facility in New Mexico.

The series B equity will help the company build out its operations with a target of producing 10,000 barrels per day of fuel from algae and help it operate at commercial scale within three to five years.

Sapphire Energy has not provided many details publicly about its technology except to say that it doesn't need fresh water to grow the algae and that it has assembled a team with expertise in cell biology, plant genomics, and algal production.

The stake in Sapphire Energy is not the first foray into alternative fuels for Gates' Cascade Investments. The firm invested in Pacific Ethanol, but later sold its shares as the company's stock price fell.
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Re: Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Postby hthuijs » Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:25 pm

The small quantities per footprint of algal installations are a constant annoyance in the industry. The second annoyance is the believe that biodiesel is the answer for fatty acids. In Germany a system is developed which produces high loads of algal residue (extracted fatty acids) on a very small footprint and for the transformation of fatty acids into a fuel uses a patented system called Lipocal that uses a cracking device to produce inexpensive clean diesel. None of this you will find in the internet since the people involved keep silent to preserve there knowledge.

A target of 10 000 barrels per day would need 6 acres with the German system and I wonder what area Sapphire Energy's system would need for that quantity.

Hans Thuijs
F³ clean Diesel
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Re: Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Postby cacofonix » Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:49 pm

hthuijs wrote:The small quantities per footprint of algal installations are a constant annoyance in the industry. The second annoyance is the believe that biodiesel is the answer for fatty acids. In Germany a system is developed which produces high loads of algal residue (extracted fatty acids) on a very small footprint and for the transformation of fatty acids into a fuel uses a patented system called Lipocal that uses a cracking device to produce inexpensive clean diesel. None of this you will find in the internet since the people involved keep silent to preserve there knowledge.

A target of 10 000 barrels per day would need 6 acres with the German system and I wonder what area Sapphire Energy's system would need for that quantity.

Hans Thuijs
F³ clean Diesel


Hans,

Thanks for the note. I agree with you - most in the industry are still talking about biodiesel. I strongly suspect that in a year from now, the end product people have in mind could be quite different!

By the way, the Lipocal system you mentioned - is it the syngas / FT process or something similar? Since you mentioned cracking, I kind of thought it should be the thermochemical process you are referring to? I personally too think that the gasification/FT method has excellent potential and more people should explore this...of course, one impediment is the capital cost of the process, but usually if it is purely a question of engineering, one can expect dramatic cost reductions over time...
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Re: Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Postby cacofonix » Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:53 pm

hthuijs wrote:The small quantities per footprint of algal installations are a constant annoyance in the industry. The second annoyance is the believe that biodiesel is the answer for fatty acids. In Germany a system is developed which produces high loads of algal residue (extracted fatty acids) on a very small footprint and for the transformation of fatty acids into a fuel uses a patented system called Lipocal that uses a cracking device to produce inexpensive clean diesel. None of this you will find in the internet since the people involved keep silent to preserve there knowledge.

A target of 10 000 barrels per day would need 6 acres with the German system and I wonder what area Sapphire Energy's system would need for that quantity.

Hans Thuijs
F³ clean Diesel


And by the way, you said 10,000 barrels per day per 6 acres? I think there is some typo; else it would mean 250 T per day per acre. No way. Anyway, just for comparison, most of the companies are talking about 50-100 T per hectare per year - about 20-50 T per acre per year.
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Re: Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Postby andrew39 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:29 am

The lowly algae is the renewable fuel industry's great green hope. Because algae is rich in oil and can grow in a wide range of conditions, many companies are betting that it can create fuels or other chemicals cheaper than existing feedstocks.

So far, no company has made cost-competitive fuel at large scale from algae. But a handful predict they will within three years.
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