This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 04, 2008

Company Produces "Green" Crude Oil and Gasoline from Algae

Sapphire Energy announced on May 28 that it has produced "green" gasoline from a synthetic crude oil made from algae. The algae yield a crude oil replacement that is literally green, and according to the company, the "green crude" meets fuel quality standards and is completely compatible with the existing petroleum infrastructure, from refinement through distribution to retail suppliers. Gasoline produced from the green crude achieved a 91 octane rating while meeting fuel quality standards. Sapphire Energy considers the achievement to be at the forefront of an entirely new industrial category, called "green crude production."

"It's hard not to get excited about algae's potential," says Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer of DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "Its basic requirements are few: carbon dioxide, sun, and water. Algae can flourish in non-arable land or in dirty water, and when it does flourish, its potential oil yield per acre is unmatched by any other terrestrial feedstock." See the Sapphire Energy press release and its companion Web site, Green Crude Production.

In fact, the hard part about algae production is growing the algae in a controlled way and harvesting it efficiently. Most companies pursuing algae as a source of biofuels are pumping nutrient-laden water through plastic tubes (called "bioreactors") that are exposed to sunlight. On May 22, Green Star Products, Inc. announced its development of a micronutrient formula to increase the growth rate of algae. According to the company, its new formula can increase the daily growth rate by 34% and can double the amount of algae produced in one growth cycle. See the Green Star Products press release.