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Oilgae - Algae Fuel Intelligence Series

Algae Fuels Digest for Investors

The Most Concise and Precise Guide to the Algae Fuel Industry

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Pages -161, Last Updated - June 2013

Algae presents tremendous business potential as a future source of biofuel. As an entrepreneur, businessman or investor, you will be keen on understanding the critical highlights and drivers of this industry. This report will be an indispensable tool for you in this.

Comprehensive Knowledge and Understanding on the following
  • A basic understanding of the technologies and processes
  • Critical information on leading companies
  • Costs of algae fuel production and factors that affect costs
  • Key trends in algae fuel research and what the future holds for algae fuels

Pages - 161, Last Updated - June 2013
The Oilgae Digest was developed to provide background and insights on the key parameters driving the algae fuel business - technical and economic feasibility, real industry status, investments and costs, and business success factors. This report is a customized edition for those who wish to get a first level understanding of the critical drivers of the algae fuels industry.

Algae, a third-generation biofuel feedstock, present one of the most exciting possibilities as a future solution to our energy problems, especially that of transportation fuel. In the last few years, activity in this field has been accelerating fast.

Why should you know about algae fuels NOW?

  • You will be exploring an alternative to one of our most critical commodities - oil
  • You will be learning about a feedstock that has the potential to revolutionize the world of energy
  • You will have an early mover advantage as the industry is just about to take off

Why are algae so exciting from a renewable energy standpoint? For a number of reasons:

  • The yields of oil and fuels from algae are much higher (10-25 times) than competing energy crops
  • Algae can grow in diverse regions, thus ensuring that there is no competition with food crops.
  • Algae are excellent bioremediation agents - they have the potential to absorb massive amounts of CO2 and can play an important role in sewage and industrial wastewater treatment.
  • Algae are the only feedstock that have the potential to completely replace world's demand of transportation fuels.
  • Algae are already being used in a wide variety of industries and applications, and many newer applications are being discovered. Such a wide range of end-uses enable companies to produce both fuels and non-fuel products from the same algae feedstock.
List of Contents
Key take-aways from the report
Questions answered
Who should buy this report?
  • Investors in Biofuels Industry
  • Corporate Chief Executives and Senior Management
  • Entrepreneurs both Small and Large
  • Management and Strategy Consultants
  • Industry and Market Research Companies
  • Venture Capital & Private Equity Companies Banks
  • Government Departments that Provide Renewable Energy Grants

The algae energy field is still in its nascency. While people around the world have heard about the energy possibilities from algae and would like to know more, few resources are available that provide an overview of the algae energy industry, its potential, the status of various companies in this industry, and what the future is likely to hold for this industry.

Based on our interactions with hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and businesses who have been exploring this domain in the last few years, we realized the need for a resource that provides structured data, insights and opinion that answers the key questions in their minds.

The following are the key questions potential entrepreneurs have:

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  • Should I explore algae as a biofuel feedstock?
  • Do I have the the skills and resources required for an entrepreneur or business to benefit from this opportunity?
  • Do I know enough about the main risks and bottlenecks present in this domain?
  • Do I know enough about the future trends to evaluate this opportunity against other energy-related opportunities?
  • What can I learn from the performance of existing companies in the algae fuels domain?

The Oilgae Digest was prepared to answer these questions. The Digest is a companion report to the Comprehensive Algae Fuels Report ( ), which is intended for users more advanced in this field.

An insightful report, Oilgae Digest provides precise inputs for the following questions:
  • What is the current and future potential for deriving energy from algae?
  • What are the various energy product possibilities from algae?
  • What is the real-world status of algae-energy efforts?
  • Which are the prominent companies in this field and what are the efforts currently undertaken by them?
  • What types of industries and companies will benefit most by investing in this field?
  • What is the quantum of investment required in this field?
  • What are the key success factors required to succeed in this exciting business opportunity?
  • What types of venture capital investments are happening in this industry?
  • What are the real bottlenecks / problems that could hamper the growth of this industry?
  • What are predictions for the future with regard to challenges, possibilities and breakthroughs?
  • What are the next steps you should take should you be interested in exploring further?

Why Should You Buy the Oilgae Digest?

  • It answers the most important questions that entrerpeneurs, investors and businesses have regarding algae fuels
  • It provides authoritative and critical inputs on one of the most exciting renewable energy sources, in an easy-to-understand language
  • It can assist you to quickly take the next steps in this opportunity
  • It informs you of the precise status of algae fuel efforts
  • It provides insights from industry professionals worldwide
  • It has been developed by Oilgae, the definitive and most referenced resource for the algae energy industry.

Balanced Opinion

The goal of the Oilgae Digest is to present an objective status report on the algae fuels industry. Written by professionals who have been observing the industry since its inception and interact continuously with all the key industry players, the Oilgae Digest will assist you to clearly distinguish hype from reality.

We are no more selling this report. If you wish to get a free copy of this report, please send a note to

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List of Contents
1. Introduction to Algae Energy
1.1 Algae & Energy - Background & Concepts
1.2 Energy Products from Algae Biomass
1.2.2 Biodiesel
1.2.2 Ethanol
1.2.3 Methane
1.2.4 Hydrogen
1.2.5 Other Hydrocarbons
1.2.6 Prominent Companies & their End Products
1.3 Algae to Energy Processes
1.3.1 Strain Selection
1.3.2 Algaculture
1.3.3 Harvesting
1.3.4 Oil Extraction
1.3.5 Conversion of Oil to Biodiesel

List of Tables
  • Percentage Dry Weight of Oil Content In Various Crops.
  • Typical Yields In US Gallons Of Biodiesel Per Acre.
  • List Of Algae Energy Companies And Proposed End-Products
  • Various Parameters Showing The Relativity Between Open Ponds Vs Closed Bioreactors
List of Figures
  • Paths to the Various Energy Products From Algae
2. Size & Scope of the Algae Business Opportunity
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2.1 Energy Industry Payoffs
2.1.1 Global Energy Industry
2.1.2 Oil - Big Challenges & Big Payoffs
2.2 Applications & Uses for Algae
2.2.1 Fuel Applications of Algae Biodiesel Ethanol Hydrogen Methane Hydrocarbons
2.2.2 Non-fuel Applications Bioremediation - algae-based CO2 sequestration and waste-water treatment
  • Algae + CO2 Emissions = Carbon Credits + Biofuels!
    • Algae-based CO2 Sequestration Case Studies
    • Business Opportunities from Algae-based CO2 Sequestration
  • Algae + Wastewater / Sewage = Clean Water + Biofuels!
    • Benefits of Algae-based Wastewater Remediation Treatment
    • Business Opportunities from Algae-based Wastewater Remediation
    • Case Study of Waste Water Treatment with Algae Other Non-fuel Applications
  • Biopolymers & Bioplastics
  • Animal & Fish Feed - Shrimp feed, Shellfish Diet, Marine Fish Larvae Cultivation
  • Paints, Dyes and Colorants
  • Lubricants
  • Food, Health Products, Nutraceuticals
  • Cosmetics
  • Agrochemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
    • Antimicrobials, Antivirals & Antifungals
    • Neuroprotective Products
    • Slimming Related Products
    • Anti-cellulite
    • Skin Anti-ageing & Sensitive Skin Treatment
  • Pollution Control
    • CO2 Sequestration
    • Uranium/Plutonium Sequestration
    • Fertilizer Runoff Reclamation
    • Sewage & Wastewater Treatment
2.3 Industries that can Derive Synergistic Benefits from the Algae Energy Opportunity
  • Sewage & Water Treatment Companies
  • Agriculture & Farming
  • Companies Producing Animal Waste
  • Polluting Industries
  • Algae-based Products Manufacturers
  • List of Tables
    • Revenues Of Top 5 Oil Companies (2009, US$ Billion)
    • Sample Of Products From Microalgae
    • Prominent Producers Of Microalgae Products
    • Annual World Ethanol Production By Country (Millions Of Gallons)
    • Hydrogen Current Market Size & Growth
    • Market Size Of The Primary Hydrocarbon Fuels
    • Products Derived From Algae And Their Values
    • Market Size For Algae Products
    • Summary Of Availability And Cost Of CO2 Sources
    • Projected Global Energy Demand And CO2 Emissions, 2000 To 2020
    • Global Carotenoid Market Value By Product 2007 & 2015
    • Cosmetics Market Size Forecast – Overview
    List of Figures
    • Cleansing Wastewater with Algae- Sintef Fisheries/ Irish Seaweed Centre Project
    3. Real World Status of Algae Energy Projects
    3.1 Prominent Companies
    3.2 Status of Algae Fuel in Real World
    3.2.1 Industry Concentration
    3.2.2. Dominant Designs
    3.2.3 Implementation Status of Prominent Companies
    • Aquaflow Bionomic
    • Cellana
    • GreenFuel Technologies Corporation
    • OriginOil
    • PetroAlgae
    • PetroSun Biofuels
    • Sapphire Energy
    • Seambiotic
    • Solazyme
    • Valcent
    3.2.4 Q&A
    • Has any company succeeded in producing biofuel from algae?
    • Is any company selling algae biofuel on a large scale?
    • When, according to the top companies in this domain, will they be able to produce biofuels from algae on a commercial scale?
    • As algae oil has the potential to replace fossil fuels, what are the large oil companies doing about algae?
    3.3 Bottlenecks & Barriers
    3.3.1 Key Challenges Faced by the Algae Fuels Industry
    • Algae Fuel Production Cost
    • Why does it cost so much to produce algae?
    3.3.2 Key Entry Barriers
    • Cost of Talent
    • Necessity of Scale
    • External Factors
    • Distribution Channels
    3.3.3 Q&A
    • Why did the Aquatic Species Program (a prominent research program sponsored by the US government to produce algae fuels) not succeed?
    • Why should the current research succeed when the Aquatic Species Program did not?
    • Why aren't the governments investing much more into algae fuels research?
    List of Tables
    • Approximate Number Of Companies Directly Involved In Producing Fuels From Algae
    • Age Of Algae Energy Companies - 2009
    • Algae Fuel Production Cost

    4. Investments & Returns

    4.1 Investments
    4.1.1 Lab Stage
    4.1.2 Pilot Stage
    4.1.3 Commercial Stage
    4.2 Returns
    4.3 Costs - Representative Working Out of Cost of Biodiesel Production from Algae
    • Cost Estimates for the Various Options & Combinations
    • Observations & Analysis
    4.4 Q&A
    • Can a small entrepreneur start an algae fuel venture?
    • What are the types of external financing available?
    • When is it likely that the costs of oil from algae will be competitive?
    • What are the efforts undertaken to reduce the costs of algae fuels?
    List of Tables
    • Examples Of Algae Fuel Pilot Plant Configurations
    • Yield Assumptions
    • Various Stages And The Various Options Available For Each Stage
    • Cost Estimates For The Various Options Under Each Stage
    • Total Cost Of Biodiesel Production
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    5. Profiles of Top Algae Energy Companies - Over 20 prominent companies profiled in detail

    6. Funding & Investments
    6.1 Quantum of Venture Capital Investments
    6.2 Companies that have Received VC Funding
    6.3 Government & Other Public Initiatives
    6.4 VC Perspectives, Insights & Recommendations
    List of Tables
    • Venture Capital Firms and the Companies They Have Invested In
    7. Business Strategies
    7.1 Key Success Factors
    7.2 Niche Strategy
    • Product-specific Efforts
    • Focus on Specific End-user Industries
    • Explore Alternative Markets
    • Creating IP Widgets
    7.3 Investing in Industries that Provide Support to Algae Fuel Companies
    7.4 Lab Stage & Pilot Stage - Details on steps and strategies for these critical stages
    • Examples and case studies of pilot stage efforts
    7.5 Teams & Expertise - Suggestions on ideal team composition
    7.6 Monitoring for Breakthroughs - Key companies and breakthroughs to watch out for
    7.7 Things to Avoid
    7.8 Deciding the End Product
    • Does hydrogen have a realistic chance of making it big in the short and medium run as a transport fuel?
    • Is any company producing or trying to produce hydrogen or methane from algae?
    • Can algae biomass or the deoiled algae cake be directly used as fuel for combustion?
    7.9 Understanding Your Country / Region's Regulatory and Incentive Environment Better
    • Worldwide Government Mandates & Initiatives
    List of Tables
    • SWOT Analysis for The Algae Energy Industry.
    • Use And Blending Share Targets (T) And Mandates (M) For Liquid Biofuels That Can Be Met By Either Ethanol Or Biodiesel
    • EU Member States Goals For The Use Of Biofuels As Transportation Fuel
    8. Predictions
    Predictions on how energy from algae industry will pan out during the next 10 years, until about 2020. For each of the periods discussed, analysis and predictions are made on the following aspects:
    • Challenges - The key challenges faced during this period
    • Highlights - Ideas/concepts most likely to flourish
    • Dark Horses - Possible surprise winners
    List of Tables
    • Challenges, Highlights And Possibilities
    9. Interested? Next Steps
    9.1 Organizations - List of organizations related to algae fuels for you to get in touch with
    9.2 Algae Collection Centers - Algae strains can be sourced from these centers
    9.3 Ask Oilgae - Get in touch with the Oilgae team for additional support
    List of Tables
    • List Of Organizations
    • List Of Algae Culture Collection Centres
    • Algae Culture Collection Centers Country Wise – From World Federation For Culture Collections

    Key take-aways from the report:
    • Algae, because of their high growth rate and yields, could produce a lot more oil than other energy crops. Some estimates suggest that microalgae are capable of producing up to 50,000 litres of oil per hectare a year. This could be converted into biodiesel by conventional processes and be used to fuel vehicles from jets to tractors.
    • While microalgae strains that are rich in oil content can be used for producing biodiesel, other strains of microalgae and macroalgae can also be used as energy feedstock. Fuels such as ethanol, methane, hydrogen and other hydrocarbon fuels can be derived from these, through a variety of processes.
    • It is estimated that there are over 30,000 different strains of algae. While such a large number might indicate exceptional potential for energy production from algae, in reality, only a small percentage of these could be used to derive energy in an economically sustainable manner. There are a number of reasons for this. What such a fact indicates, however, is that it is critical that the most suitable strain is chosen for a specific type of culture medium and for a desired type of energy end-product.
    • A drawback of the common open algae culture systems is the major risk of infection by undesirable photosynthetic micro-organisms which can be introduced via air or rain. Such infections can be prevented only by choosing a culture medium which is unfavourable for infectious and other undesirable micro-organisms and favourable to the growth of the desired alga species, so that the latter can win the competition. In a limited number of cases this is possible.
      • An alternative to these problems could be to carry out algae cultivation in closed photobioreactors. In these, the process conditions can be accurately controlled, and no infection carrying alga species will occur. A major drawback of the closed photobioreactors is the high investment costs which lead to high production costs.
    • Unlike for many other energy crops, the cost of harvesting algae could present a significant challenge to economic energy production from algae.
    • The reasons lie in the differences present between harvesting algae and other energy crops:

      • The medium in which alga grows is different – the other oilseeds are land crops while algae grow in water
      • Microalgae’s physical characteristics are significantly different from those of the primary oilseeds, the main difference being the size.
      • Algae are harvested almost everyday, for most part or all through the year, whereas harvesting for most oilseeds is quite seasonal in nature

      Owing to these reasons, harvesting algae, especially microalgae, could be a fairly expensive process. A number of methods could be potentially used for harvesting.

    • Algae have been long used for a number of non fuel applications and products. These include its use in animal feed, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and more.
    • Algae also present an interesting opportunity as a bioremediation agent – algae can be used to sequester CO2 from power plants, and they can be used to remove nutrients from waste water and sewage.
    • Algae + CO2 Emissions = Carbon Credits + Biofuels!
      Algae + Wastewater / Sewage = Clean Water + Biofuels!
    • The algae energy industry is just about 4-5 years old, but there are a few companies that have already achieved prominence. The following is the list of companies that have been able to make good progress so far
      • Aquaflow Bionomic
      • Cellana
      • OriginOil
      • PetroAlgae
      • PetroSun
      • Sapphire Energy
      • Seambiotic
      • Solazyme
      • Valcent
    • The real challenge facing the algae industry is the high cost of fuel production from algae. The other significant challenges include:
      • Difficulty in optimal strain selection
      • High capital cost of photobioreactors
      • High cost of harvesting
      • Difficulties in genetic manipulation of algae
      • High capital cost of biomass gasification
      • Contamination management in open cultivation environments and in waste water/sewage
      • High operational and capital cost of algae based CO2 sequestration at power plants and other industries
      • Difficulty in getting high quality scientific talent
    • Oilgae estimates that algae oil could cost up to $15 per gallon for production
    • Typically, companies venturing into the algae fuels industry go through three stages:
      1. Lab stage,
      2. Pilot stage, and
      3. Commercial stage
      The lab stage usually comprises a small team that does research in laboratory conditions. The pilot stage is relatively larger, with experimentation done in real-world situations. The commercial stage involves large-scale operations.
    • Apart from startups, the other group of companies entering / that has entered the algae energy domain comprises established companies who are already operating in the energy/alternative energy/biofuels domain or in domains closely related to algae.
    • In July 2009, ExxonMobil announced a $600 million investment in algal fuel research and development. ExxonMobil’s project is noteworthy in light of the collaborative involvement of Synthetic Genomics which is experimenting with algae genetics to develop strains that produce ever-higher quantities of oil, reducing the cost and effort required to extract the refinable materials. In August 2009, BP also joined the algae fuel club with a $10 million investment in Martek Biosciences.
    • Scientific Talent is a Key Success Factor - The key success factor for the industry at this stage of its lifecycle is the amount and quality of relevant scientific expertise available with the company. The real challenges facing the industry now (and for the next 3-5 years) are scientific in nature; hence, fundamental and applied research expertises are the most important ingredients a startup should bring with it.
    • Exploring Opportunities in Support Industries - If the risk profile of the algae energy does not fit an entrepreneur’s business aspirations, he/she could still be involved in this industry – by investing in industries/sectors that support this industry. Examples of such sectors include photobioreactor design and manufacture, implementation of open and closed raceway ponds, integration of power plant CO2 emissions with an algae cultivation facility, equipments for harvesting & extraction, consulting, research equipments such as microscopes, analytical equipments and more.

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    About Oilgae
    Oilgae is the premier resource for the global algae energy industry. Started in 2006 with a dedicated focus on algae energy, Oilgae today serves as a crucial platform and opinion-leader for this industry. The Oilgae team is frequently interviewed by leading world media and frequently presents at seminars and conferences. Some of the media that Oilgae has been mentioned in are: WorldChanging (Columbia University), BBC, Salon Magazine, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wired, India Times and more. Oilgae today is so synonymous with algae energy that many people worldwide use Oilgae as the word to refer to oil from algae!

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