California and New Mexico: Sapphire Energy Advances the Commercialization of Algae Crude Oil

Project Overview
Positive Impact: The Sapphire Green Crude Farm is the first algae-to-energy facility. If adopted and commercialized by other refineries, this algae-based crude oil is a viable “green” alternative fuel option.
Location: California and New Mexico
Partners: Sapphire Energy and Philips 66
EERE Investment: $50 million
Clean Energy Sector: Sustainable transportationPDF

Sapphire Energy, Inc.—one of the world’s leaders in algae-based green crude oil production—has made significant advances toward commercializing algae crude oil at its Columbus, New Mexico, algae-to-crude oil facility. Built in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the facility—also known as the Green Crude Farm—now produces algae-based renewable biofuels on a daily basis. The Farm is the world’s first commercial-to-demonstration-scale facility that incorporates the entire value chain of algae-based crude oil production—from cultivation, to production, to withdrawal. The Farm is developing a technology that is set to produce crude oil suitable for refining and market use, while passing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification requirements under the Clean Air Act.

Integrated energy manufacturing and logistics company, Phillips 66, with its expertise in hydroprocessing and fuels upgrading, has partnered with Sapphire Energy, with its vast knowledge of algae cultivation, to expand the facility’s current testing programs to further validate green crude oil’s ability to operate in traditional refineries and meet environmental standards. In under a year, Sapphire Energy has entered into contracts with two major companies in the oil and gas industry—helping to solidify the potential for algae fuel as a viable crude oil alternative. In addition to the Phillips 66 partnership, Sapphire Energy signed a sales agreement with Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company, LLC in March. Another promising partnership includes Sapphire’s commercial agreement, expanded in July, with gas and engineering company, the Linde Group, to develop a cost-efficient carbon dioxide delivery system for commercial algae production.

In 2015, Sapphire Energy expects to be at commercial demonstration scale. By 2018, the company looks to produce 5,000 barrels per day of renewable crude oil—leading to millions of gallons of renewable, domestically produced liquid transportation fuels.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) works with a broad spectrum of industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop and deploy commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower from renewable biomass resources in America to reduce our dependence on imported oil.

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