September 23, 2009

A sampling of algae biofuel firms in Southern California

A sampling of algae biofuel companies in the Southland * Biolight Harvesting Inc. of San Diego develops fuels and chemicals from blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria.

* Kent Bioenergy Corp. of

San Diego originated as a company that bred hybrid striped bass in the 1970s. Before producing algae for energy, the company used it to clean water in its fish pens.

* Carbon Capture Corp. of La Jolla uses carbon dioxide from sources including power plants to grow algae for biofuel.

* Sapphire Energy of San Diego produces "green crude" from algae that can substitute for crude oil and has raised more than $100 million from investors including Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp. Its algae fuel helped power a Continental Airlines test flight this year.

* General Atomics of San Diego, known for producing the Predator unmanned aircraft, received a $19.9-million military grant in December to research ways to drive down the costs associated with algae jet fuel production.

* Synthetic Genomics Inc. of La Jolla was founded in part by J. Craig Venter, whose previous company, Celera Genomics, spearheaded the effort to map human genes. The company will pair with Exxon Mobil Corp. in a $600-million venture.

* OriginOil Inc. of Los Angeles has a Quantum Fracturing process that helps break down algae cell walls in order to extract oil.

* Scipio Biofuels Inc. of Aliso Viejo is a year-old company developing a "closed photobioreactor" system for algae to be used in large-scale plants and in smaller systems for specific industries such as trucking or airports.

* Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego will use a military contract potentially worth $25 million to develop a cost-effective algae-based jet fuel.

* Kai Bioenergy Corp. of San Diego has a patented technology for the cultivation and processing of microalgae to produce bio-oil.

* American Biodiesel Inc., doing business as Community Fuels in Encinitas, owns one of the state's largest biodiesel plants and has branched into algae development.

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