April 30, 2008

PetroSun Issues Corporate Updates

SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwire - April 30, 2008) - PetroSun, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: PSUD) announced today the following corporate updates.

Financial Reports

The accounting firm engaged by PetroSun has advised the company that the financial reports through December 31, 2007 will be available within the next few days for filing. These reports will indicate that PetroSun was in a period of research and development on its algae-to-biofuels technology. The Company is committed to achieving fully reporting status in the near term as it enters the commercial stage of its algae-to-biofuels operations. PetroSun is currently interviewing for the position of CFO.


New content should be posted in the coming days under Renewable Energy, Algae-to Biofuels and Photo Gallery on the company website at www.petrosuninc.com. The delay has been caused by the workload of management due to the transition into commercial operations.

PetroSun BioFuels China

The Company has scheduled several meetings in Beijing and Shanghai during the period from May 26th to June 2nd to discuss algal oil feedstock and other corporate opportunities. PetroSun BioFuels China is a wholly owned subsidiary of PetroSun.

Algae-to-Biofuels Division

Company representatives met with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Texas Department of Agriculture last week to discuss the permitting process for the Rio Hondo algae farm and extraction plant. The company notified the agencies of its intent to not discharge water from the ponds and the utilization of native algal strains. A tour and meetings with potential customers, partners and local residents has been scheduled for May 11th and 12th.

Oil and Gas Division

Under the direction of Dr. John Templin II, PetroSun is seeking to immediately exploit its holdings in Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana for the exploration and development of oil, natural gas and helium. Information on these activities will be posted on our website under Prospects & Projects and the Oilpatch Report.

About PetroSun

PetroSun's operations include oil and gas exploration, development and production and algae-to-algal oil alternative fuels production. The oil and gas division is focused on the exploration of the Holbrook Basin of Arizona, the San Juan Basin of New Mexico and Australian-based prospects. The Company will continue the development of oil and gas reserves in Louisiana. The alternative fuels division has entered the commercial stage of its algae-to-biofuels production technology. The Company plans to establish algae farms and algal oil extraction plants in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Mexico and Central America during 2008. The algal oil product will be marketed as feedstock to existing biodiesel refiners and planned company owned refineries. PetroSun is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona with field offices in Shreveport, Louisiana and Rio Hondo, Texas. For more information about PetroSun visit the company's website at www.petrosuninc.com.

Except historical matter contained herein, matters discussed in this news release are forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements reflect assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties, which may affect the Company's business and prospects and cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements.

Analysis: Algae emerges as new fuel source

UPI Correspondent

CHICAGO, April 30 (UPI) -- As climate change and rising oil prices intensify the search for alternative energy sources, researchers are on the brink of commercializing algae for fuel, experts say.

These small, plantlike organisms could be used as feedstocks for ethanol or other biofuels, replacing some of the traditional sources of ethanol, such as corn or soybeans.

Algae possess several characteristics that could propel them to the forefront of the renewable fuels industry. Top among these qualities is the ability to grow rapidly and with few inputs, such as fresh water or fertilizer, said Thomas Byrne of Byrne and Co. Ltd., a firm that provides advice on renewable energy projects.

"Algae grow pretty much everywhere in the world … (and) it doesn't draw from drinking water," Byrne said at discussion on algae at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Chicago this week. "One of the arguments against (traditional) ethanol is that grain-based fuels use a fair amount of groundwater."

Water usage has become an increasing concern in energy production, as groundwater levels decrease and demand rises, according to a recent Virginia Tech study that ranked corn ethanol at the bottom of the list for high-water usage. Algae also require water to grow, but only brackish or polluted water, not drinking water.

Other concerns about traditional ethanol have surfaced lately, including the land requirements associated with growing corn as a feedstock. Algae avoid these problems, because cropland is not required to produce the organisms.

Algae can also act as a sink for carbon dioxide because they absorb it for photosynthesis.

Best of all, a number of companies say they can produce the alternative feedstock economically, including Ben Cloud of XL Renewables.

"The economic value of algae products is high and certainly sufficient for profitable production today," Cloud said.

XL Renewables plans to launch its algae-production technology in November. The Super Trough System utilizes shallow troughs to grow the algae, and CO2-enriched air is distributed over the troughs to feed the burgeoning organisms below.

In current tests, the system produces a yield range of 50 tons per acre, but Cloud said only 10.17 tons is required to be potentially profitable. However, he speculates future advances will lead to much higher rates of production.

"Algae's a very simple organism, and it's easy to identify (positive) characteristics and breed for them," thus increasing yields, Cloud said. He projects future rates as high as 100 to 150 tons per acre.

In reality, though, that rate isn't feasible, said Drgoljub Bilanovic, professor of environmental studies at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.

"Photosynthetic machinery which is in all green things can harness a maximum of 9 percent of solar energy," Bilanovic told United Press International.

That translate, theoretically, into 99 tons per acre, but no one's close to reaching that with today's technology, Bilanovic said.

Even if producers fail to meet Cloud's projected production rates, though, algae could still be profitable. And XL Renewables' trough system isn't the only option out there. The Alberta Research Council in Canada has focused on algae's potential to reduce CO2 through a Carbon Algae Recycling System.

The research project aims to sequester the high-carbon flue gas produced by coal-fire power plants in algae, said Quinn Goretzky of the Research Council.

"We want to take 40 to 45 percent of industrial flue gas released into the atmosphere and run it through our system to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere," he said.

The algae could then be used for a variety of purposes, including as a biofuels feedstock of animal feed.

The algae will be grown in open pond systems, with structures on top to protect the algae from snow during cold weather. The Research Council is looking at a variety of ways to increase yields, including projecting light further below the surface to raise photosynthetic productivity, Goretzky said. Another important factor is selecting the right kind of algae.

"There are over a million different strains of algae in Canada alone," Goretzky said. "We've worked with 21 samples, and, so far, the indications are quite promising."

The project will complete its first stage this year, and Goretzky said they hope to begin building lab-scale demonstration facilities before the end of 2008.

As algae producers turn to commercial-scale facilities, an important consideration is location, experts said at the Biotechnology Conference. Some possibilities include building adjacent to coal-fire power plants, to be close to a source of CO2, or next to ethanol plants, to decrease transportation of the algae once it's grown. Others are considering utilizing the wastewater produced by municipalities, although that particular possibility has potential drawbacks, said Byrne of Byrne and Co.

"There is some concern with that because many municipalities put chemicals in their systems to kill algae, so that could be problematic," he said.

Despite the many advantages, Algae also have some drawbacks, such as their requirement for light to grow. If producers use electricity to generate light or increase temperatures in an effort to increase productivity, it may take more energy to produce the algae than the algae will provide. Also, it takes more algae to produce a gallon of ethanol than corn, Byrne said.

"It takes more quantity to run through (the biorefinery) because it's not as high in starch as corn," he told UPI.

April 29, 2008

Algal farming - a new Agricultural Revolution?

By Damir Ibrisimovic

Recent food riots around the globe could spell the end for the biofuels industry based on crops grown on arable land. And although biofuel crops are only partly to blame for skyrocketing food prices, they are already branded by some critics as a crime against humanity.

The dilemma, biofuels or food, disappears as soon we turn our intention to the humble seawater algae. They are not only a potential source of biofuels. Algae are at the base of the marine food web and can also be used for human consumption or as animal fodder. And whatever we do not use can easily be converted into very good fertiliser. Growing algae on barren land may indeed offer a new agricultural revolution and Australia could be at its forefront, earning a good deal from carbon credits.

The world seems blinded by its desire for high-tech solutions. We may be better off adopting large volume, low-tech solutions which any farmer can understand and implement. If they grew algae for fuel, food, feed and fertiliser production farmers could become less dependent on fossil fuels, expensive fertilisers and dwindling fresh water sources. Farmers could also grow fish with the algae on barren land while continuing to grow food crops on fertile parts of their property. Australia’s salinity issue could also be addressed by providing salt water drainages and enabling targeted afforestation.

Unlike in the open sea, we have some control over what we grow in basins or ponds on barren land. This is the basis of my Greening Method (patent pending). As we grow the algae in saltwater ponds, the water will evaporate and this may offset soil humidity loss on nearby land sufficiently to enable vegetation growth. We can also use the grown algae to improve soil fertility and quality. And, once vegetation takes hold, we are ready to grow a new agroforestry mix.
Harvesting ocean algal blooms is also an option. Although we have yet to work out mechanisms that drive them, they too could also be managed as a source of algal oils and carbon credits. For example, existing oil spill containment technologies could easily be adapted for harvesting of algae on the open sea. The fishing industry may also benefit from this as seeding the seas may increase potential fish catches.

The public usually finds the thought of sewage treatment plants distasteful, but these too could play an important role in the envisioned agricultural revolution. Human waste provides primary nutrients to algae and since they are low in food chain we can be quite safe in using it to feed them. We can use the waste from sewage works in two ways: to grow algae for biofuels in specialised treatment plants or to fertilise algal blooms at sea.

People will inevitably raise the issue of the cost of algae-based fuels, but the answer is that political will always plays a key part in how much something costs – a point underlined by the Brazilian ethanol industry which would not have flourished without government support. Costs can be driven down not only by carbon credits, but also by our inventiveness and experience.

Our farmers were quite inventive in the past and they are likely to continue in the future. Algal farming experiences may also become valuable export products earning even more carbon credits.

A fix for gas emissions? Pond scum could help

OTTAWA -- As Canadian energy companies face growing constraints on their greenhouse gas emissions, researchers believe they have found an answer in pond scum.

Backed by oil companies and utilities, Canadian researchers are plowing ahead with plans to develop algae farms that will convert carbon dioxide from oil sands projects and coal-fired power plants into biofuels, chemicals and fertilizers.

Algae ponds that use photosynthesis to feed on CO{-2} are common in warmer climes, but until recently, few thought they would be productive in Canada's harsh conditions. Now a consortium led by the Alberta Research Council has completed research that suggests the algae would thrive under northern light and temperatures, with an appropriate covering for winter months.

"What we are doing is transferring [the algae systems] into more temperate climes, which is a big step and something that no one ever believed would be viable; but we have demonstrated that that's not true," John McDougall, chairman of the Alberta Research Council, said in a telephone interview after presenting results of the first phase of the project to research partners.

"We think this can take a major bite out of the CO{-2} problem, particularly for large industrial point sources. Our work has shown to date that, for the large industrial emitters, this kind of a system would potentially take up about 30 per cent of their emissions."

All told, he envisions a fleet of bioconversion facilities at tailings ponds across the country, capable of eliminating 100 million tonnes of CO{-2} emissions a year - equivalent to more than a third of Alberta's current production of greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers - including scientists from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec - believe they can boost the productivity of the system so that CO{-2} can be removed at a cost of about $25 a tonne.

That's far cheaper than carbon-capture and storage technology, which is widely touted as an answer to Canada's industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Oil companies and utilities are developing technology that will capture CO{-2} from emissions and inject it underground for permanent storage. However, industry experts have estimated the cost of such carbon capture and storage plants would be $80 per tonne of CO{-2}.

Mr. McDougall said he believes the algae-based CO{-2} recycling will complement carbon capture and storage systems, and will be particularly useful for large emitters in Eastern Canada, where the geology is less suitable for underground storage.

The federal government released emission targets this year that will require oil sands and coal-based utilities that come on stream after 2012 to virtually eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions, although the companies can claim credit for emissions-reduction by investing in technology that will eventually do the job.

The $20-million algae project is being funded by major Canadian energy companies, including Petro-Canada, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, EnCana Corp. and Epcor Power LP, a coal-dependent Alberta-based utility.

The researchers will spend the next two years improving productivity of the algae system, including efforts to generate growth deeper under the surface of the pond to reduce the area required.

They will then construct a demonstration project at a site to be selected. Assuming the technology proves commercially viable, the consortium expects companies to begin building the recycling facilities at industrial and mining sites across the country by 2015.

April 28, 2008

Origin Oil Fuels Hope for a Credible Solution for Global Oil Woes

Origin Oil is an oil producing company with a difference. It is trying to develop a system that can transform algae to a commercially workable substitute for petroleum. However the company is still in its initial stages and the patent required for the new algae derived oil is still pending.

Origin Oil believes that a new age bio-fuel feedstock can be created to manufacture petrol, diesel, jet fuel, plastics and other solvents. A large quantity of the world's oil and gas reserves are made up of algae deposits of ancient age. The micro algae can grow fast and naturally create oil as part of their organic processes. A micro alga can have up to 60% of its weight in oil. The main theory is that when micro algae are grown in controlled environment it ensures their sustenance and then the algae are cracked so that the oil can be extracted. The extraction process produces a by product in form of biomass that can be used further.

The micro algae are also considered as a means to tackle the eminent greenhouse problem as the algae survives on carbon dioxide and emits oxygen. As a result, when the oil is used, it is in a way returning the carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere, not adding to it.

The algae have to be cultivated in a calm environment that is well lit and watered. In addition the cell wall of the algae is tough and considerable amount of energy is spent on cracking it. Therefore, to extract the oil without wasting a lot of energy is a real challenge before Origin Oil.

Origin Oil warns that the new bio fuel may not achieve technical or profitable viability in near future. However, well known alternative energy sources like solar power and hydrogen need time to be phased into the current lifestyles because they require infrastructure to support the move from oil to alternative means. The oil prices themselves are at record highs and the usual bio fuel production is straining the world’s food supply. So many experts concur that micro-algae as an alternative fuel are the way to go as it solves the oil problem.

The company does not plan to manufacture the algae feedstock or the oil. Instead it will give out technology modules so that everyone could use micro algae to create low cost oil. The company claims to have made breakthroughs in the growth and extraction. Their module just needs water; the rest runs on solar energy. They intend to sell their module all over the world to make large scale production.

Origin Oil went public recently. About 32.0 million of its shares are up for grabs. The shares are sold over the counter as the share price is lower than the minimum amount required by the stock exchanges. It shares are already experiencing good days at the market.

Biodiesel plants idled by rising soybean prices

The rising price of soybeans is putting the squeeze on biodiesel producers, leading some to close down operations.

The prices of soybeans and soybean oil have more than doubled in the last two years, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

For producers, that sharp uptick in price is forcing them to either close down or go to different sources of oil, such as animal fats or fry grease from restaurants.

Most biodiesel in the United States is made from soy. Soybean oil is around 60 cents a pound, while at the beginning of 2007 it was under 30 cents a pound.

Producers need 7.5 pounds to make one gallon of biodiesel, according to one industry estimate, so even with a federal subsidy, biodiesel manufacturers are seeing their profit shrunk or eliminated.

"The numbers are impossible," said Fred Tennant, vice president of business development at PetroAlgae, which intends to make biodiesel from algae.

The situation is puzzling to people in the industry because the stock of soy is at an all-time high.

One explanation is that biodiesel is becoming more closely linked to the rising price of petroleum-based diesel oil. When sold commercially, biodiesel is usually blended with diesel.

"It's not following any linear economic path," said Amber Pearson, a spokesperson for the National Biodiesel Board. "Maybe some of the (price increases) are due to speculations and futures markets."

Despite the squeeze on biodiesel feedstocks, the demand is there. That's been aided by federal mandates to increase the amount of biodiesel consumed in the U.S. from a minimum of 500 million gallons next year to 1 billion gallons a year by 2012.

In 2007, consumption of biodiesel was already up to 500 million gallons, more than double the amount in 2006.

Pearson said there are 170 biodiesel plants in the U.S. and said there are a small number that have gone offline, at least temporarily.

"The plants that are built to be multi-feedstock, meaning they can produce with more than just soybean oil are faring better," she said.

New tech to the rescue?
In one case, SoyMor Biodiesel in Glennville, Minn., stopped producing biodiesel last month because of high soy prices and the low dollar.

Gary Pestorious, the chairman of the SoyMor Board of Governors, told the Albert Lea Tribune newspaper that soybean oil prices are about 10 cents too high for the plant to operate viably. It is looking into making biodiesel from corn oil or animal fat.

The growing challenges in biodiesel come during an economic boom in biofuels, but one that is being more closely scrutinized by policy makers and consumers.

The World Bank earlier this month said that demand for ethanol made from corn is one factor in rising food prices, a situation that is causing social unrest in poor countries.

Corn-based ethanol is also under fire from environmentalists who argue that it does not improve greenhouse gas emissions substantially compared to gasoline, while consuming a lot of water. Meanwhile, the rising price over the past few years has made crimped profit margins for ethanol producers.

In biodiesel, there are great hopes for making oil from algae because it not a food crop.

Although commercial-grade biodiesel has been made from algae, there are a number of technical and production challenges before it can be done at commercial scale.

Higher soy prices aren't good news for venture capitalists who have invested in biodiesel.

Imperium Renewables, which shelved plans to go public last year, is a high-profile new entrant into biodiesel which funded its technology development and part of its production facility through clean tech venture capitalists. Traditionally, refineries and other energy-related plants are funded from project finance and private equity, rather than venture capital.

The National Biodiesel Board expects there to be a "price correction" at some point, although where the price will settle is hard to predict. "Every biodiesel producer using soybean is definitely feeling the pinch," Pearson said.

Designer plants may produce hydrogen for fuel

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University are collaborating to design plants that use photosynthesis to churn out hydrogen, which could be a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

And they think the single-celled algae is well-suited to the task.

"This is long-term research," said David Tiede, a senior chemist at Argonne. "Hydrogen is one generation or two generations away as the basis for our energy, but we have to start now to find efficient ways to extract it."

Algae has no roots, can be grown in water anywhere and creates an enzyme, hydrogenase, that separates hydrogen gas from water. Like most plants, algae combines carbon dioxide, sunlight and water to create biomass, biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production. With excessive sunlight, some unwanted byproducts are converted to hydrogen by the enzyme.

Tiede and his colleagues believe they can incorporate that hydrogen into the algae's core photosynthesis process, making hydrogen a primary product.

"We're suggesting the idea of photosynthesis to do hydrogen reduction instead of carbon dioxide reduction," Tiede said. "That would be much more efficient than current processes that must break down biomass to get usable energy."

There is a "friendly competition," Tiede said, between scientists who back biological ways to harvest hydrogen and those following a non-biological path.

Engineers working with semiconductors can use silicon-based technology to convert sunlight to electrical energy, but they face the problem of storing that electrical energy efficiently.

Some researchers use inorganic means to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, providing hydrogen gas as a clean fuel. But today's technology relies on using metal catalysts that are expensive and toxic, Tiede said.

"Biology already splits water into hydrogen for us using materials that are cheap and clean," Tiede said. "Our research has value not just for biofuels, but also for those working with inorganic systems who seek better catalysts."

Today's oil-based energy infrastructure supports the conversion of corn to ethanol: Automobiles can run on ethanol-gas blends and existing filling stations can, without too much trouble, supply ethanol fuels in the same way they supply petroleum-based fuels.

Changing the infrastructure to enable hydrogen-powered vehicles to refuel easily is a huge hurdle, one reason no one will be buying algae-fueled hydrogen sedans any time soon.

But the prospect of re-engineering plants to provide efficient petroleum alternatives is a notion gaining momentum, Tiede said.

"This is really cutting-edge bioengineering research," he said. "Energy has become a high national priority. This used to be an esoteric field, but not any more."

Nanomaterials and safety: The growing popularity of products using nanomaterials, or superminiature substances, has caused concern about their unknown effects on the environment.

For example, sunscreens made from bulk forms of zinc oxide block harmful ultraviolet rays by coating the user's skin with a visible white film. Zinc oxide in the nano form blocks the rays using nanotechnology that renders the oxide invisible to the human eye, and the dangers of the tiny materials to humans and the planet are hotly debated.

It will take an enormous amount of research to understand nanomaterials' impact. But one early result from Purdue University may provide some comfort. Researchers found that a nano form of carbon known as the buckyball doesn't appear to affect micro-organisms that are at the foundation of the planet's ecosystem.

The scientists injected massive amounts of nanoparticle carbon into wastewater to gauge its effect on the microbes that break down organic materials. The experiment was analogous to pouring 10 pounds of talcum powder on a human being, the researchers said.

"We found no effect by any amount of carbon 60 on the structure or the function of the microbial community over a short time," said Leila Nyberg, the study's leader.

The study could serve as a template for future experiments using other nanoparticles, the researchers said.


Solar power, weeds and algae to fuel armed forces of future

Britain's armed forces could acquire a new tinge of green under plans to end the military dependency on fossil fuels.

Possible innovations include unmanned attack aircraft powered by the sun. They would fire missiles fuelled with hydrogen produced by feeding algae to microbes.

Tanks could be electrically powered or run on fuel produced from oil squeezed out of weeds so hardy they can grow in the desert.

Ships could run completely on electricity produced from generators powered by synthetic fuels made from grass.

The environmental requirements of the army, navy and air force will be presented this week to specially vetted defence and research companies.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said last week that many of the ideas would come to fruition only in the next generation. The US Air Force, however, is expected to start converting its aircraft to use a mix of synthetic and petroleum-based fuel by the end of 2010 and the RAF is likely to follow suit.

The Royal Navy’s new Type45 destroyers already use all-electric propulsion, albeit produced by gas generators, and greener ways of producing the electricity are being explored in conjunction with the French.

Officials said last week that the need to reduce the carbon footprint of the forces’ gas-guzzling tanks, jets and other equipment was just one factor: green fuel is also seen as an opportunity to cut the forces’ £400m annual fuel bill, which has doubled in four years.

It is also hoped that diversifying fuel supplies will reduce reliance on the unstable Middle East and cut transport costs.

Turning all three services “green” was one of a number of new defence targets outlined last week by Paul Stein, the MoD’s science and technology director, to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. Others included more unmanned, missile-carrying aircraft; lightweight tanks; ultra-light equipment for soldiers and futuristic communications devices.

While some of the plan will be made public, most will be made available on a secure website to selected company and university research departments.

“It will provide clear direction to the research and development community,” the ministry said.

The MoD’s science and technology experts envisage more efficient engines and greater use of solar power, microbe-powered fuel cells and lightweight and remotely operated aircraft and robots.

Future biofuels are likely to focus on inedible plants such as the jatropha, which thrives as a weed on arid land and desert and needs little water. It is already being cultivated in dry parts of India for biodiesel.

Algae or Regular?

By some estimates, peak oil has happened, which means that oil production will be ever decreasing, its prices ever rising. Oil is used for pretty much everything in modern society - transportation, home heating, electricity, manufacturing - the process and the goods, agriculture, commercial fertilizers and farming equipment, so much.

Biofuels may seem like a new topic but already grain, such as corn, is being grown by the millions of acres to ease our dependence on oil. Of course grain is also used as feed for livestock and us, and it requires tons of energy to be grown and turned into fuel. Recently food prices have been increasing and global grain stocks decreasing.

If one were to fill an SUV tank with Ethanol, the corn or grain that it took to make that fuel would feed a person for a year. Nothing but corn for a year is not appealing to us but it sure is better than nothing, which is what some people have. So, SUV owners could either donate a tankfull's worth or.... hopefully fuel of the future will be produced from far less energy intensive (to produce) materials, like garbage, cellulose or algae.

Isn't it great that there still are activities that are not dependent on any fossil fuel energy? Some of them are even productive and/or pleasurable!

Biofuel: Search on for a credible alternative

Biofuel can become a credible alternative to fossil fuels only if it can be derived from non-food sources. Most of these “second-generation” technologies are still at lab stage. But there is now increased pressure to quickly move towards full commercial introduction.

The technologies vary. Cellulosic ethanol produced from waste wood or weeds such as switch-grass, by either enzymes or thermo-chemical reactions breaking down the cellulose and turning it into sugar to be converted into ethanol, is perhaps the technology offering the strongest hopes of relatively rapid success in the US. But cost is a problem.

Currently, cellulosic ethanol two or three times more expensive than corn ethanol, which is already struggling to compete with cane ethanol from Brazil.

In Europe, where car-drivers have switched to diesel-fuelled machines, there is more emphasis on biomass-to-liquid (BTL) technologies that produce synthetic biodiesel from wood biomass using the Fisher Tropsch process. Choren, a German company backed by Shell, Volkswagen and Daimler Chrysler, is one of the leaders of this technology. Last week, Choren inaugurated the world’s first commercial BTL plant in Freiberg, Saxony. It may be a year before the plant reaches its full annual capacity of 18 million liters.

Other technologies abound. BP and Dupont have been engaged in a joint venture to develop bio-butanol as an alternative to ethanol.

A genetically modified corn, using an enzyme from the stomach of a cow, has been developed by scientists at Michigan State University. The development should allow the corn to be processed into ethanol without the use of synthetic chemicals.

Researchers from the US National Science Foundation claimed to have achieved the first direct conversion of lignocellulose, a material found in plant stems, from plants into a petrol-like fuel. The process involves the rapid heating of cellulose in the presence of catalysts and then cooling it to create many of the components of petrol, including toluene and naphthalene.

Trials are on of a new method of extracting jatropha oil that produces 20% more than current technologies, says the developer Jatropha Biofuels Technologies. The process, which uses high- pressure gas to extract the oil, can extract up to 30% of the weight of each jatropha seed.

Algae is a feedstock with the greatest theoretical potential. Most research into algae has focused upon converting it into ethanol. However, scientists at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have suggested it could also be converted into hydrogen gas. They are looking at algae which contains an enzyme called hydrogenase, which creates small amounts of hydrogen gas. The aim is to remove the catalyst from the hydrogenase and use it during photosynthesis.

Despite frenetic research, second-generation biofuels may not be able to pick up the slack from crop-based biofuel fast enough. The US Energy Information Administration says second-generation biofuels would fall short of US government expectations. Instead of producing 21bn gallons a year by 2022, it was likely only 17.5bn gallons would be possible, leaving ethanol production overall some 3.5bn gallons a year short of its target.

OriginOil's Microscopic Solution To Global Oil Crisis

The stakes are high for newly public company OriginOil, which has bet its business on proving that miniscule, primitive algae can solve the world's big oil crisis.

OriginOil (other-otc: OOIL - news - people ), which went public Friday, is developing a system to transform algae into a commercially viable alternative to petroleum. But the company is still in its early stages. The patent is pending on the company's OriginOil system, and its ability to create a new form of algae-derived oil for commercial use hasn't been proven yet.

OriginOil intends to create a new bio-fuel feedstock that can be used to make diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, plastics and solvents, but the company cautioned it "is in fact a new biofuel that may never achieve technical or commercial viability." If the company is successful, the potential payoff is huge.

"We like to say 'don't change the car, change the fuel,' " said OriginOil President Riggs Eckleberry. "We believe that alternative energy sources like hydrogen and solar power are attractive but will take decades to phase in because they will require new infrastructure … it is scientifically known that microalgae is a fast-growing organism that naturally produces oil as part of its biological process. Certain strains of microalgae can contain as much as 60% of their dry weight in oil."

Furthermore, algae-derived energy is as green as it gets, according to Eckleberry.

"Algae lives on carbon dioxide so if you start to grow algae, it's eating up lots of carbon and putting oxygen into the air. So whatever you burn for energy, you're more than offsetting the carbon released. It's carbon neutral," Eckleberry said.

With oil prices at record highs and biofuel production straining the world food supply, investors are eager looking for alternatives--and algae offers a two-in-one solution. The by-products of algae oil extraction are oil and algae biomass, which can be used for biofuel or animal feed.

OriginOil's system rapidly grows microalgae and then "cracks" it to extract algae oil. For a primitive energy source--much of the world's oil and gas is made up of ancient algae deposits--the high-maintenance organism requires sophisticated technology for its cultivation and oil extraction. Algae demand a light, fluid and calm environment.

"One of the primary challenges is how to optimally introduce carbon dioxide and nutrients needed by the growing algae culture without disrupting or over-aerating it," the company said. Additionally, algae are protected by a tough cell wall that must be cracked to extract the oil, a high-energy process.

"The challenge is to maximize oil yield by cracking as many of the algae cells as possible with the smallest amount of energy," said OriginOil.

The technology company, which doesn't intend to manufacture algae feedstock or oil, aims to make its technology modules globally available so that everyone has access to low-cost energy.

"Where we're making a real difference is, we have the technological breakthroughs in growth and extraction. Once people get our module, all they have to do is add water and it runs on solar energy. If you want people all over the world to adopt algae energy generation, you make it simple and easy to adopt," Eckleberry said. "That's how we're hoping to accomplish large-scale production."

On Friday, OriginOil publicly offered up roughly 32.0 million shares Friday on behalf of early investors in the company. The stock is being sold for 10 cents a share, relegating it to trade over-the-counter since the share price is lower than the minimum required by the exchanges.

As IPOs go, however, it went well. The stock price was up to 20 cents a share during Friday's afternoon trading.

Carbon recycling system closer to converting CO2 gas into valuable products

QUEBEC CITY, April 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Centre de recherche industrielle du
Québec (CRIQ) is a key participant in a network that aims to fast-track Mother
Nature's own greenhouse gas recycling process with a system that would handle
large volumes of CO2 from industry.
Scientists at the Quebec research organization are working through
Innoventures Canada (I-CAN) with researchers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and
Manitoba. Together, they are getting closer to creating a system that would
convert carbon dioxide diverted from industrial facilities into value-added
products using Earth's oldest plant life - micro-algae.
I-CAN is a not-for-profit consortium of ten Canadian research
corporations who have joined together for key strategic projects. The
organization kicked off its annual meetings in Quebec City April 24 and 25
with an update on its CARS project - Carbon Algae Recycling System. CARS
proposes to feed flue gas (CO2, NOx, etc.) directly from industry into ponds
to feed the growth of micro-algae, which would then be harvested and processed
into value-added products such as ethanol, bio-diesel or fertilizer.
"In essence, the goal of CARS is to fast-track Mother Nature's own
process of using plants to soak up carbon from the atmosphere," says Denis
Beaulieu, current chairman for I-CAN and special consultant with CRIQ. "Algae
growth research isn't new, but our goal is. Other algae projects are aimed at
creating bio-fuels. The goal of CARS is to provide industry with a
sustainable, affordable way to deal with their greenhouse gas emissions."
The base case chosen for the preliminary CARS work is sized to consume up
to 30 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced by the average 300 megawatt
coal-fired power plant. "That's the base case, and we'll work upwards to
larger capacities from there," says Beaulieu. He predicts the sale of
byproducts like ethanol or fertilizer from harvesting the algae would help
offset the cost of operating the CARS algae systems.
Since announcing the CARS project last year, scientists from four
different provinces have made head-way in proving this concept could work in
Canada in a cost-effective way.
"Until now, it was believed Canada's climate and light conditions
wouldn't support these kinds of algae projects," says John McDougall,
vice-chairman of I-CAN from the Alberta Research Council. "We've now
discovered the less intense sunlight in Canada is actually beneficial to the
growth of algae, and we are devising concepts of how covered pond systems
could work economically in our climate."
The comprehensive research program is taking a two-pronged approach. The
biological piece of this puzzle will identify a strain of algae that thrives
on the specific chemical composition of flue gas, at a target temperature,
given the angle of sunlight in Canada. On the engineering side, the
researchers have already determined that neither the existing photobioreactor
nor the open pond algae systems would deal with large enough volumes of CO2.
I-CAN partner researchers are now developing a hybrid covered pond system that
maintains the consistent environment required by the chosen strains of algae.
National demand for such a project is mounting. Governments are targeting
industries to reduce their greenhouse gases in the coming years, leaving
industry scrambling for ways to cut their emissions in a way that's good for
the environment and their bottom line.
Participating organizations for the CARS project include Centre de
recherche industrielle du Québec (CRIQ), Alberta Research Council (ARC),
Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) and Manitoba Industrial Technology Centre
(ITC). The project is currently funded by the Government of Canada through
Natural Resources Canada, the Province of Alberta through the Alberta Energy
Research Institute, Alberta Bio-fuel Fund and the Alberta Life Sciences
Institute, as well as the Province of Quebec. Industry partners include Mosaic
Potash, Suncor Energy, EnCana, Graymont Mining, New Brunswick Power, EPCOR,
Petro-Canada and Shell Canada.

About Innoventures Canada:

I-CAN (Innoventures Canada) is a national organization linking Canada's
provincial research organizations and other specialized applied research and
development partners across the country to create a critical mass. I-CAN
improves Canada's performance in commercializing research by eliminating
duplication of resources and strengthening the linkages among R&D service
providers, government, and industry.

OriginOil, Inc., Goes Public

Registration Statement Declared Effective by the Securities Exchange Commission

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OriginOil, Inc., the developer of a breakthrough technology to transform algae, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum, today announced that the company's S-1 registration statement has been declared effective by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Company's founder and CEO, Riggs Eckelberry, said, "We are very pleased that our registration statement has been declared effective and that we are a public company. We can now turn our energies and focus to transform algae, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum. We look forward to building a successful company for our shareholders."

About OriginOil, Inc.

OriginOil, Inc. is developing a breakthrough technology that will transform algae, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum. Much of the world's oil and gas is made up of ancient algae deposits. Today, our technology will produce "new oil" from algae, through a cost-effective, high-speed manufacturing process. This endless supply of new oil can be used for many products such as diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, plastics and solvents without the global warming effects of petroleum. Other oil producing feedstock such as corn and sugarcane often destroy vital farmlands and rainforests, disrupt global food supplies and create new environmental problems. Our unique technology, based on algae, is targeted at fundamentally changing our source of oil without disrupting the environment or food supplies. To learn more about the Company, please visit our website at www.originoil.com.

Safe Harbor Statement:

Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this press release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "may," "intend," "expect," and similar expressions identify such forward-looking statements. Actual results, performance or achievements could differ materially from those contemplated, expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein, and while expected, there is no guarantee that we will attain the aforementioned anticipated developmental milestones. These forward-looking statements are based largely on the expectations of the Company and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. These include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties associated with: the impact of economic, competitive and other factors affecting the Company and its operations, markets, product, and distributor performance; the impact on the national and local economies resulting from terrorist actions, and U.S. actions subsequently; and other factors detailed in reports filed by the Company.

Cerrell Associates
Saundra Halgrimson, 323-466-3445

Claflin eyes partnersip in fuel related research park

A spin-off of Claflin University is developing plans for the creation of a research park with a focus on alternate fuels.

A $180,000 grant will allow Claflin’s Organic Bio-Energy Inc. and Greer-based Green Energy Partners to study the feasibility of their plans to develop a $75 million project at the John W. Matthews Industrial Park in Orangeburg County.

The companies plan to study the use of carbon dioxide to grow algae, which could then be processed into fuel. It could also provide its “green energy” to businesses in the industrial park and to the power grid.

“This is unique, what we are doing. It is one of the first models of this kind of approach in solving our energy crisis,” said Dr. Rebecca Bullard-Dillard, OBE vice president for research. She is also an associate professor and chair of the biology department at Claflin.

If everything comes together, the research park could be completed by 2010.

It is estimated when the park is operational, its annual output will be 4 million gallons of synthetic biodiesel, 1 million gallons of biobutanol in the first stage of the process and 44 megawatts of electricity.

The campus could employ approximately 25 people. Corporate and research and development personnel will number approximately 18. The entire investment could reach $75 million.

Project officials estimate it could eventually result in about 100 direct or operational technical jobs, as well as agricultural and transportation jobs.

The project got a $180,000 boost in funding Thursday from a state Department of Agriculture South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Fund grant. The money will be used to conduct project feasibility studies.

Currently, both OBE and GEP are in the process of forming collaborative agreements with GreenShift Corp., which owns or participates in licensing green energy technology, including syn-fuel and biodiesel.

Discussions are also under way with other corporate and private land holders about the provision of wood and wood wastes from forestry management in the area. The park will not use coal or natural gas.

Bullard-Dillard declined comment on specific companies engaged in the project due to contractual arrangements.

“We have been in discussion with federal government agencies, private individuals and public partners,” Bullard-Dillard said.

One of the processes examined will be algae propagation. Algae can extract carbon dioxide from exhaust and convert it to sugars via photosynthesis. About two tons of algae can remove one ton of carbon dioxide.

Once the algae are harvested, they can be converted to ethanol or biodiesel.

The site could also include other alternative energy projects, such as biofuel production facilities that will use cellulosic materials as feedstock.

T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski can be reached by e-mail at gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-533-5551.

Algae looked at as new energy source

Algae - the icky stuff that chokes out aquatic life and makes swimmers squeamish - is fuelling research for more renewable energy sources.

"By sequestering carbon dioxide into water it can feed algae, which can then be transformed into biodiesel, ethanol and fertilizer," said John Vidmar of the Alberta Research Council.

Vidmar is heading up some of the local research being done by scientists across Canada by a network of non-profits similar to the ARC.

Dubbed Innoventures Canada, the group is exploring how industry can use captured carbon emissions as food to grow bio-based products.

Research is in the early stages, but Vidmar said the idea is fairly straightforward. Build covered water ponds near industry, pump filtered CO2 emissions into them, funnel as much sunlight into the depths as possible and wait for the pond to get scummy.

"Gas sequestered from industrial complexes like coal-fired power plants would feed the algae, which is then harvested and processed," Vidmar said.

"This could be an alternative way to create renewable sources of energy ... if it were commercially viable."

Algae contains the ingredients to make bioproducts that will be in greater demand as the supply of non-renewable energy sources is depleted.

"Photosynthesis can produce a number of different carbon backbones from the algae, like lipids, sugars and amino acids. From those we could produce biodiesel, other ethanol products and fertilizer," Vidmar said.

He said similar research was done in the 1980s in Utah and Nevada, but the scum ponds were left open to the elements and were not actively fed with sequestered CO2. "They had problems with evaporation, that's why we'd cover them. We'd have some significant challenges doing this in the Canadian climate, which is something our research group will try to address as we move on."

Vidmar said various corporate partners are helping fund the research, including EPCOR, Shell and Petro-Canada.

April 20, 2008

Algae-based fuel meets military standards

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 18 (UPI) -- The Southwest Research Institute says it has tested an algae-based biofuel that is capable of meeting U.S. Defense Department cold-weather requirements.

The U.S. Department of Defense requested SWRI to test California-based Solazyme Inc.'s biodiesel, called Soladiesel. Officials say the microalgae fuel demonstrated a strong performance capability in cold weather. Because the U.S. military has bases in many cold-weather climates, they have been previously unable to use biodiesel.

Company officials say the new Soladiesel has been processed as a high-grade fatty acid methyl ester biodiesel, meeting requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials standards D6751 and EN 14214 along with European standards. Soladiesel also meets current military specifications in a Defense Department initiative to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

"The Department of Defense-requested testing of the Soladiesel fuel showed superior performance especially in terms of its cold temperature properties," Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Greater performance in cold temperatures means our biodiesel and other algae-based fuels could help the military in remote northern locations like Alaska and North Dakota, as well as in hot climates, while reducing dependence on petroleum."

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

Pond Scum Has Potential in Push For New Bio-Fuels

Oils From Algae Could One Day Power Motors

San Diego Business Journal Staff

A slippery, slimy organism with a natural ability to grow rapidly is gaining respect among researchers who hope to one day harness its potential in mass amounts for the creation of bio-fuels.

Algae, which have the ability to grow in both fresh water and saltwater, could one day provide fuel for the world’s cars, diesel trucks and military jets. While other sources of alternative energy rely on food sources such as corn, researchers have envisioned growing algae in open ponds in the desert.

By starving the algae of their nutrients, scientists have discovered ways of harnessing their algal oils. The oils are then converted into vegetable oil to produce fuel.

Researchers at UC San Diego, who are studying ways to genetically modify the algae, say the organism could one day solve the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“The only real solution we can see that answers economics, geopolitical issues and the environment is this algae platform,” said Steve Kay, dean of UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences. “And it’s an area of research and biological science that has been almost entirely ignored.”

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the principal research lab for the U.S. Department of Energy, began studying algae-derived bio-fuels 30 years ago. It halted the project in 1996 largely because the price of algal oil couldn’t compete with the petroleum prices.

But today’s rising oil costs, coupled with an uproar about the use of food supplies for energy use, have re-emphasized the need for alternative solutions.

Thousands Of Gallons Per Acre

While ethanol crops such as corn can produce anywhere between 28 and 700 gallons per acre, scientists with UCSD say algae have the ability to yield a few thousand gallons an acre.

“And that’s just the starting point,” Kay said.

But challenges exist with the production of bio-fuel on a larger scale, and scientists say there are debates about acceptable prices.

“One of the real problems right now is that there is no national or international center for science and engineering of photosynthetic microbes,” said Steven Briggs, a biological sciences professor at UCSD. “It’s been a backwater of science and now, suddenly, it looks like it’s the key to our most pressing social challenge.”

Venture capital dollars, which amounted to almost $4 billion in green technologies last year, have created greater opportunities for bio-fuel startups in recent years. The $4 billion represented a 38 percent increase from the $2.9 billion invested in 2006, according to Cleantech Group LLC, formerly called the Cleantech Venture Network, which tracks venture capital investments in environmentally friendly technologies.

April 15, 2008

WMU Researchers Create Biofuels from Waste Oil & Algae

Michigan, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com]

Researchers at Western Michigan University (WMU) are working to develop two biofuel production processes that could help the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan move toward environmental sustainability. The goal of the first project, Bronco Biodiesel, is to perfect a process to convert trap grease, used vegetable oil from restaurants and other facilities, into biodiesel. The second project, which is still in its early stages will attempt to find a viable algae strain that could be used for both waste treatment and as a feedstock for biodiesel or ethanol production.

Dr. Steve Bertman, a professor of chemistry at WMU, is the lead researcher for both projects. He says that the projects' goals are bigger than just producing renewable fuels.

“Our main goal is to help enhance urban sustainability. Trap grease poses a serious challenge to urban waste management and water treatment facilities...We'd like to provide an alternative market for these fats, oils and greases,” Bertman said.

The problem with the fats, oils and greases that Bertman and his team deal with is that they are very diverse in their origin, their content and their chemical makeup. In the past each source would have to be processed in a different way in order to remove water content and other non-fermentable elements. Bronco Biodiesel is working out a way to standardize the processing so that all of their feedstocks can be processed at once. This, according to Bertman, is the biggest challenge to scaling up to the 500,000 – 1 million gallon production level the team is hoping to reach in the near future.

Bertman and his colleagues, anthropology professor Dr. Sarah Hill and chemistry professor Dr. John Miller, are hoping that this project will aid the city of Kalamazoo by relieving the strain that trap and other waste greases put on the waste management system and by using the finished product to fuel its bus fleet.

"My interests lie in working with cultural conceptions of waste, how to pay for waste management, and how we can recover useful materials — and energy — from wastes. Plumbing infrastructure allows us to dump greases down the drain where they wind up in city sewer lines," Hill said. "Sewer collector systems all over the country are failing and those that aren't will do so in the coming decades. Rate payers don't typically like to pay for line improvement. So finding ways of keeping aging systems intact will be part of an emerging set of practices — at the household level — necessary, to avoid costly line fixes."

The City of Kalamazoo is behind the project. City Commissioner David Anderson helped the group find a space for their test plant and believes that the city will not only benefit from the project but also serve as an example to other municipalities of what is possible when it comes to using reusing waste products.

“When I first heard of the project I thought it was a fantastic idea and hit every bell. When you begin to look at the model, ethanol is weak, so what can be better than taking something that is disposed of and using it to create renewable fuels,” Anderson said. “We have a municipal sewer system and one of our biggest problems is getting trap grease out of the system. We've provided some really rent-free space for the project and are trying to take this from a lab-based process to a full production process.”

Not Just Waste Fuel

Algae is also on the radar at WMU. The group is currently looking for grant funding to explore using algae as both a feedstock for fuel and, in keeping with the idea of sustainability, in water treatment applications. According to Bertman, the algae project came up when he and his colleagues started looking at the strain that biofuels are putting on the U.S. agricultural system from a sustainability standpoint.

The project is in its early stages and the researchers are open to all possibilities regarding the strain of algae they're looking for and what type of biofuel would come out of the process, though Bertman admits that ethanol would be a better option since the commercial infrastructure for it already exists.

"Ethanol from algae is the same as ethanol from any other source. If we can make it economically then certainly there will be a market for it,” Bertman said.

The plan is to cultivate the algae by using it at water treatment facilities where it would feed on the nutrient rich waste water, removing content that would need to be removed by other means anyway. From there, some of the algae would be removed and either drained of oils for ethanol production or used as organic feedstock for biodiesel production. Though they don't have the money to work on the project on a large scale, Bertman is confident that projects like this are the key to moving away from dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.

"This project is also a waste management project. We're getting our algae from wastewater treatment systems (phosphorous and nitrogen) — including systems designed to remove excess nutrients from natural rivers," Hill said. "Like the grease project, our thrust is to recover energy from a waste management system. And, as in the grease undertakings, my interest is seeing how we can institute culture change, or at least at the outset, understanding what cultural factors impede more successful exploitation of waste resources."

April 14, 2008

International Energy Announces Appointment of Rakesh Shankar, PhD

New appointment follows breakthroughs with biofuels technology: Researchers have developed proprietary system to continuously extract bio-oil from algae, and novel protocols to enhance growth of hydrocarbon accumulating microalgae.

VANCOUVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--International Energy, Inc. (OTCBB:IENI), a developer of leading-edge technologies for the renewable generation of photosynthetic biofuels, today announced the appointment of Rakesh Shankar, PhD -- a noted environmental author, energy sector expert, negotiator and diplomat -- to the Companys Scientific Advisory Board.

A respected lecturer, published environmental author, former University professor and researcher, Dr. Shankar holds a Bachelors degree in Science (physics, chemistry and mathematics), a Masters degree in Philosophy, and a PhD in Environmental Legislation & Policy Formulation.

Dr. Rakesh Shankars career experience spans over 20-plus years of service as a diplomat in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Canada, including appointment as Indias Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Shankar subsequently served as Chief Negotiator for the Government of the Northwest Territories in Canada, and worked with the Sustainable Development Research Initiative at the University of British Columbia, pioneering world-class sustainability research to reconcile economic, ecological, and social imperatives.

With growing global awareness of the environmental impact of conventional fuels and the rising cost of oil, alternative energy sources and algal biofuels in particular, are promising and much-needed technology solutions, commented Dr. Shankar. It is my privilege to work with the Company to help advance its algal biofuel initiatives and build on International Energys early success in the lab.

In recent research news the Company announced major technological advances in nutrient delivery and bio-oil extraction processes. International Energys proprietary nutrient delivery protocol alleviates specific nutrient absorption limitations in microalgae, thereby enhancing growth and hydrocarbon production.

Researchers have also developed a novel, continuous bio-oil extraction process that is safe for the Companys proprietary microalgae. Microalgae processed utilizing International Energys bio-oil extraction process remain viable hydrocarbon producers, reducing expected maintenance costs while maximizing yield per acre.

These are very exciting research achievements for us, and I welcome Dr. Shankars support as we move towards commercial development of our algae-to-oil technology, stated Mr. Derek Cooper, President and Chief Executive Officer of International Energy, Inc. He has an established history of worldwide experience with high level negotiations, and expertise with alternative energy and environmental issues, alongside a solid grasp of conventional oil and energy. Dr. Shankar is a great asset to our team.

Among his many appointments, Dr. Shankar has acted as Indias Ambassador to Zambia and Hungary, and served as Director of Multilateral Economic Relations at the Ministry of External Affairs. In his position as Director, Dr. Shankar oversaw matters related to the World Trade Organization, education, science and technology, environment, and trade with numerous countries.


International Energy, Inc. (Symbol:IENI) is developing leading edge technologies for the production of biofuels derived directly from the photosynthesis of green microalgae, which can accumulate up to 30% of their biomass in the form of valuable biofuels.

As a result of current high oil prices, depleting fossil oil reserves and growing concerns about increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, algae have emerged as one of the most promising sources for biofuel production.

Our technology seeks to convert water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful long-chain liquid hydrocarbons from the photosynthesis of proprietary unicellular microalgae, which offer advantages in the production, storage and utilization of renewable biofuels, as they can be harvested easily, stored in liquid form and do not require special containment systems.

The process of industrial scale algae growth in photo-bioreactors is non-toxic and non-polluting, can be scaled-up, offers a renewable energy supply, and aids in carbon sequestration and the mitigation of climate change.

In contrast to biofuels from food crops or cellulosic materials, certain algae produce and accumulate oil naturally and can in the process clean up waste by absorbing and utilizing nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. Additionally, raw algae can be processed to make biofuel, the renewable equivalent of petroleum, and refined to make gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemical feedstock for plastics and drugs.

For additional information, please visit www.InternationalEnergyInc.com

To receive future press releases via email, please visit

To view the full HTML text of this release, please visit:

Cambridge company to test turning algae into biofuel

Cambridge's GreenFuel Technology Corp. will participate in a 195-day test to determine whether algae production can produce energy.

GreenFuel and Omaha's Green Plains Renewable Energy recently received preliminary approval from the Iowa Power Fund for a $2.3 million grant to fund research and development of algae-based biofuel feedstock production.

The project is expected to use carbon dioxide to produce approximately 8 kilograms of algal biomass per day. If the test is successful, the project could be expanded for feasibility and commercialization, Green Plains said in a statement.

"Algae production compliments ethanol production," said Wayne Hoovestol, chief executive of Green Plains. "The algae project involves recycling heat and water, while mitigating carbon dioxide. Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest that Iowa has ideal environmental conditions for commercial algae production."

GreenFuel said oil yields from algae are estimated at several thousand gallons per acre, while oil yields from soybeans are approximately 65 gallons per acre.

"GreenFuel Technology has run several projects at major power plants in the United States," said Cary Bullock, vice-president of Business Development for GreenFuel Technology. "However, we are especially excited about the Green Plains project because of the natural synergies between the algae and ethanol industries. The Green Plains project provides an opportunity to use an operational ethanol plant to further the body of knowledge of algae-based biofuels."

15 Algae Startups Bringing Pond Scum to Fuel Tanks

If corn-based biofuels are the Britney Spears of the cleantech world (a fallen star but still all over the place), fuel made from algae is the next great American Idol winner (major potential in the pipeline). And despite the fact that algae-to-biofuel startups have been taking their sweet time bringing a pond scum fuel product to market, some inroads have been made recently — GreenFuel is building its first plant, PetroSun starts producing at their farm on April 1, and big oil Chevron and Shell have made some early bets as well.

As we watch this play out, here are 15 algae biofuel firms that you should know about:

GreenFuel Technologies: The Cambridge, Mass.-based algae firm led by telecom bigwig Bob Metcalfe (whom we interviewed here) has reached an agreement to build its first fuel plant — worth $92 million — in Europe, says Xconomy. It’s good news for the firm, which has hit some speed bumps over the past year, including layoffs, switching CEOs, shutting down a greenhouse in Arizona and discovering that its algae tech was more expensive than first planned.

The startup builds algae bioreactor systems, which use recycled CO2 to feed the algae, which is then converted into biofuels; it uses the containers to carefully control the algae’s intake of sunlight and nutrients. GreenFuel is backed by Polaris Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (our video interview with DFJ here) and Access Private Equity and has been working on raising a Series C funding.

Solazyme: The five-year old firm uses synthetic biology and genetic engineering to tweak algal strains for better biofuel yields. Based in South San Francisco, the company grows its algae in fermentation tanks without sunlight, by feeding it sugar. The company is one of the few that have managed to do deals with a major oil company — Chevron — as well as biodiesel maker Imperium Renewables. Backers include Blue Crest Capital Finance and The Roda Group.

Blue Marble Energy: The Seattle-based company finds algae-infested polluted water systems, cleans up the environment, and turns the algae into biofuel. “If the future of biofuels is algae…you’re never going to get enough volume in bioreactors or ponds…It has to be something with greater volume,” the company told the Guardian . We’re not sure how Blue Marble will control the wild algae settings, but it sounds like it could be difficult.

Inventure Chemical: Also out of Seattle, this startup is working on an algae-to-jet fuel product, and told the Seattle PI that it has already created algae-based fuel in 5- to 10-gallon tests and plans to set up a test plant to see if it can produce between from three and 15 million gallons of biofuel each year. Inventure Chemical closed its first round of funding mid-2007, and investors are reported to be biodiesel company Imperium Renewables, Cedar Grove Investments, Brighton Jones Wealth Management and undisclosed angel investors.

Solena: Profiled in the New York Times today, Solena uses high temperatures to gasify algae and other organic substances with high-energy outputs. The Washington state-based company is talking with Kansas power firm Sunflower to build a 40-megawatt power plant run on gasified algae, according to the NYT; the algae would be grown in big plastic containers, and fed by a combination of sunlight and the sodium bicarbonate biproduct of the adjacent coal plant.

Live Fuels: Instead of attempting to convert algae directly into ethanol or biodiesel, this startup is trying to create green crude that could be fed directly through the nation’s current refinery system. The Menlo Park, Calif-based startup uses open-pond algae bioreactors and plans to commercialize its technology by 2010. Investors include the Quercus Trust (David Gelbaum’s well-known environmental funding group) and Sandia National Labs.

Solix Biofuels: Like Live Fuels, Solix is also working on a biocrude, but using a closed-tank bioreactor set-up. Based in Fort Collins, Colo., and founded in April 2006, the firm is backed by Colorado State University’s Engine and Energy Conversion Laboratory. The company has said that construction will begin shortly on its first, large-scale bioreactor at the nearby New Belgian Brewery, where CO2 waste produced during the beer-making proicess will be used to feed the algae.

Aurora Biofuels: Developed at the University of California at Berkeley, the company is using genetically modified algae to efficiently create biodiesel. The Aurora claims the technology, developed by microbial biology professor Tasios Melis, can create biodiesel fuel with yields that are 125 times higher and have 50 percent lower costs than current production methods. According to the company’s web site, backers include Gabriel Venture Partners, Noventi, Oak Investment Partners (and angel investors include Auttomatic CEO Toni Schneider)

Aquaflow Binomics: The New Zealand company’s goal is to become “the first company in the world to economically produce biofuel from wild algae harvested from open-air environments.” Like Blue Marble Energy, the three-year-old startup sources its algae from algae-infested polluted water systems, cleaning the polluted environment in the process.

Late last year, publicly held Aquaflow used its algae-based biodiesel to run a Land Rover driven by New Zealand’s Minister of Climate Change. And it’s been working with Boeing on algae-to-bio-based jet fuel.

Petro Sun: This company is also publicly held, but we thought it was important to include it because they plan to start up their algae-to-biofuel production factory in Rio Honda, Texas, on April 1. The algae farm has 1,100 acres ponds that Petro Sun thinks will make 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million pounds of biomass per year. Some think the company is just jumping on the algae-slimed bandwagon.

Bionavitas: Based in Snoqualmie, Wash., the company says it has developed technology for the high-volume production of algae using bioreactors. Check out their WIPO patent app for the bioreactor setup.

Mighty Algae Biofuels: The little we do know about Mighty Algae Biofuels we learned through their entrance in the California Cleantech Open last year. We know, for example, that it uses closed bioreactors to grow the algae. They were also quoted in the San Jose Mercury this month on a story about algae biofuel.

Bodega Algae: Another newbee, this one with roots at MIT, the one-year-old firm has developed a set-up to grow algae in bioreactors with light and nutrients that it says is lower cost and more efficient than the current methods. Back in May 2007 Bodega said it was looking for $300,000 for “capital equipment, salaries and testing materials to complete the first prototype and begin a pilot study with a biodiesel manufacturing facility.” (Their web site is down, so we’ll if they’re still around).

Seambiotic: The five-year-old Israeli startup produces algae for applications, including the budding biofuel industry, and is working with Inventure Chemical. The firm has been working with Israeli Electric Company, utilizing IEC’s smokestack for a source of CO2 and grows algae in eight open algae ponds.

Cellena: A joint venture created by Hawaiian algae-to-biofuel startup HR Biopetroleum and oil company Shell. Shell has majority share of the company, which is in the process of building a demo facility on the Kona coast of Hawaii.

Pond-Powered Biofuels: Turning Algae into America's New Energy

Just three years ago, Colorado-based inventor Jim Sears shuttered himself in his garage and began tinkering with a design to mass-produce biofuel. His reactor (plastic bags) and his feedstock (algae) may have struck soybean farmers as a laughable gamble. But the experiment worked, and today, Sears’ company, Solix Biofuels in Fort Collins, is among several startups betting their futures on the photosynthetic powers of unicellular green goo.

The science is simple: Algae need water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow. The oil they produce can then be harvested and converted into biodiesel; the algae’s carbohydrate content can be fermented into ethanol. Both are much cleaner-burning fuels than petroleum-based diesel or gas.

The reality is more complex. Trying to grow concentrations of the finicky organism is a bit like trying to balance the water in a fish tank. It’s also expensive. The water needs to be just the right temperature for algae to proliferate, and even then open ponds can become choked with invasive species. Atmospheric levels of CO2 also aren’t high enough to spur exponential growth.

Solix addresses these problems by containing the algae in closed “photobioreactors”—triangular chambers made from sheets of polyethylene plastic (similar to a painter’s dropcloth)—and bubbling supplemental carbon dioxide through the system. Eventually, the source of the CO2 will be exhaust from power plants and other industrial processes, providing the added benefit of capturing a potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere.

Given the right conditions, algae can double its volume overnight. Unlike other biofuel feedstocks, such as soy or corn, it can be harvested day after day. Up to 50 percent of an alga’s body weight is comprised of oil, whereas oil-palm trees—currently the largest producer of oil to make biofuels—yield just about 20 percent of their weight in oil. Across the board, yields are already impressive: Soy produces some 50 gallons of oil per acre per year; canola, 150 gallons; and palm, 650 gallons. But algae is expected to produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year, and eventually even more.

“If we were to replace all of the diesel that we use in the United States" with an algae derivative, says Solix CEO Douglas Henston, "we could do it on an area of land that’s about one-half of 1 percent of the current farm land that we use now."

Solix plans to complete its second prototype by the end of April and to begin building a pilot plant this fall. That plant will take advantage of CO2 generated from the fermentation and boiler processes of New Belgium Brewery, also in Fort Collins. The company’s initial target is to be competitive with biodiesel, which historically sells for about $2 per gallon, wholesale. They believe they can reach this goal within a few years, and are ultimately aiming to compete with petroleum.

John Sheehan, an energy analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., believes these goals are within reach. “There is no other resource that comes even close in magnitude to the potential for making oil,” says Sheehan, who worked in the lab’s algae program before it was shut down by the Department of Energy. One of algae’s great strengths, Sheehan adds, is its ability to grow well in brackish water. In the desert southwest, where much of the groundwater is saline and unsuitable for other forms of agriculture, algae can proliferate.

GreenFuel Technologies Corp., based in Cambridge, Mass., is focused on cultivating algae that can produce high yields of both biodiesel and ethanol. There are more than 100,000 strains of algae, with differing ratios of three main types of molecule: oils, carbohydrates and protein. Strains of algae high in carbohydrates as well as oils produce starches that can be separated and fermented into ethanol; the remaining proteins can be turned into animal grains. GreenFuel hopes its pilot plant will see initial yields of 8000 gallons of biodiesel and 5000 gallons of ethanol per acre of algae.

The main focus now, says Cary Bullock, GreenFuel’s president and CEO, is figuring out “how to grow algae fast enough and cheap enough that it makes sense economically. That’s not easy to do.”

With the science well in hand, the degree to which algae-based biofuels can replace petroleum—or the limited acreage of traditional feedstocks—rests upon that bottom line. Once the technology hits the ground, will a commercial-scale facility be on par with petroleum? Says Bullock: “You don’t know until you’ve actually built the thing.”