Monthly Archives: September 2012

Small Scale Algae Goes Big Time!

Commercial Scale AlgaeBig Oil, Big Ag, Big Auto, Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Air,…all the big boys, are all throwing their weight (And Dollars) behind algae.

Almost all the world’s major industries are recognizing the potential of algae. Even the most jaded  are giving ground and conceding to the tsunami of commercial support for building algae infrastructure. And they’re voting with their wallets. Not only is private business jumping in with both feet, but entire governments are betting their countries capital on it. Here are just a few of the developments this week in the world of algae…

The news out of algae biofuels sector is nothing short of mind blowing.

First Australia: The boys “Down Under” are getting serious. It’s been my experience that when Aussie’s get down to business, you need to get out of their way. People in algae biofuels are starting to refer to the continent now as “algstralia.” Australia is moving into commercial scale algae biofuels at a fever pitch.  They’re probably going to get to commercial scale before we (the US) do. Good on you!

Aurora biofuels, algae-TEC, and a host of other world reknown companies are opening up the West Coast of Australia to algae biofuels. Massive studies, being done by a team of researchers at NMurdoch Univeristy and the University of Western Australia in identifying key areas for commercial scale production.

Keep in mind, Aurora Algae, at the demonstration plant it opened in May of this year, met all of its ten milestone operating targets set by the Western Australian Government’s Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) fund.

In addition, Algaetec an Australian based company inked a deal with Luthansia Airlines to build a commercial plant.

Algae Market Growth Predicted at 41.3% per year

A recent studCommercial Scale Algaey came out predicting  algae biofuels to see market growth of 43.1% annually.  According to energy research firm SBI, algae biofuels will post a compound annual growth rate of 43.1% that will lead the market to $1.6 billion in 2015. “Investment into algae biofuels is shifting as government grants, which were a major funding source in 2009 when over $100 million in funding from the US Department of Energy was distributed, is being replaced by strategic partnerships and slowly growing internal company revenues,” it says.

According to Biofuels Digest, there are 14 algae companies now listed in the top 50 of America’s “Hottest Biofuel Companies.” Including, Sapphire Energy, Algenol, Algix, Cellana, Phycal, Algae.Tec, Bioalgene, BioProcess Algae, Heliae, Muradel, Bio Architecture Lab, Solix, and Aurora Algae.

Success, breeds even more success

The Algae Biomass Summit opened this week in Denver, Colorado. Among the exhibitions include a 50/50 blend of biodiesel derived from algae and cooking oil waste, developed by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), and a 100% algae-derived Green Crude diesel fuel provided by Sapphire Energy. Here are just some of the highlights.

Algae Biomass Summit: Producers say commercialization is close. The take-away message was that algae production is very close to commercial deployment

Small American companies are directing the global algae industry’s commercialization approach. With Big Oil, Big Food and big money behind them, U.S. algae start-ups continue to scale up, build out, and tap into the infrastructure of willing industrial hosts from Iowa to Indonesia.

7,000 gallons per acre?

Yesterday Algenol CEO Paul Woods announced , that it’s 4 acre pilot plant has continuous production of algae ethanol at the 7,000 gallon per acre level. Algenol, an industry leader and innovator, is once again, taking the first steps toward commercial production.

Major advances in commercializing co-products like cosmetics, food, feed, and chemicals are supporting the industry that is ramping up to providing commercial quantities for fuel markets. So much so that The Dept. of Energy just awarded $15 million  in AZ  to build the first national algae testbed.

BioProcess Algae’s Tim Burns said his company’s story is “all about colocation” and going after what he called the “insatiable demand” markets: high value feed ingredients, first, and advanced biofuels later.

What we are clearly seeing here is the beginning stages of a huge, new industry being born.

The “Algae Revolution” has begun.

Get 15% off either book above, digital edition, or paperback, using the discount code “OCTSALE53″ (All Caps) on checkout. Offer good through Oct. 1, 2012

Graphic courtesy of

6 Myths (Or Excuses) Why Algae Biofuels Will Never Work

In any business, profession, or hobby, you’ll always have nay-sayers pointing to some old, usually untrue, chestnuts about the reasons why you shouldn’t do something. Algae biofuels is no exception. In fact, if anything, the tripe trotted out by the “Armchair Generals” in algae biofuels is pretty much epic.

The bull excretion usually takes on 3 forms:6 Myths (Or Excuses)  Algae Biofuels

  • The “Forum Board Crowd” who never try anything if it involves more than getting up from behind their keyboards. This particular species is especially vocal in opposition to just about anything and everything. They for the most part, have never met a negative they couldn’t wholeheartedly embrace. Not that they have ever tried, or have any experience in, what they are degrading. 99% are perfectly happy putting down the legitimate sweat and efforts of others without expending any energy themselves. The very fact that they have an opinion seems to be all that is required for them to start chirping.
  • Academics who know all there is know about anything and everything. Ah yes…Academus Americanus. These birds are easy to spot. Usually they have capital letters after their names and like to strut them. They make it a point to use important sounding vocabulary (Latin is always a favorite) and dense technical jargon, most often to confuse the issue. Many are most at home in the environment of “Baffle them with BS.” Another all time favorite feeding tactic is to use outdated research papers to back up their claims. Many also regurgitate vague, impossible to substantiate claims, i.e. “that would NEVER work,” with no explanation as to what they are specifically talking about, or why. One is left with the impression that all should hang onto every word they say as the gospel truth, simply because they are uttering it. Challenging their word usually results in primitive “fight or flight” behavior. This isn’t to say I dislike academics, (I don’t…I used to be one) or that all academics are like this. But I bet if you ask most teaching professionals they’ll tell you they know a colleague or two like the ones described above. It seems to be an occupational hazard.
  • People who tried once, failed, therefore it is impossible for the human race to ever advance beyond that point. These guys I can least sympathize with. They took the plunge. More often than not, they dived into the pool before checking the depth at the shallow end. (I’m not knocking it…I did it too, and have the lumps of my head to prove it.) This is a subject where preparation and self-education (not necessarily formal education) matters. My advice to you guys? Get up and try again. Wallowing in self-pity doesn’t get you any further towards the goal either. Like Wayne Gretsky said “I miss 100% of the shots I didn’t take.” Please understand, “failure” isn’t a bad thing. It’s a LEARNING thing. You will never succeed at anything until you’ve failed at something. Very few of the pros hit home runs the first time at the plate.

Anyhoo…onto the the 6 all time favorite myths and excuses usually from the crowd above.

1.) Only “Big Oil” has the ability to make algae bio fuels work. Wrong. This flies in the face of the fact that most research into algae biofuels are, or were started, by small research grants or entrepreneurs on a boot strap budget. After the pioneers PROVED IT, then “Big Oil” got involved. Of course, Big Oil is perfectly happy if you believe their propaganda. It’s why they put it out there to begin with. If you stay tied to their gas pumps, paying through the nose every week for the rest of your life, they consider it a job well done. If only Big Oil or the government can do it, then why haven’t they done it yet? Commercial scale algae biodiesel is still in the fantasy stage. Only small scale, is reality so far. Also, localized production of fuel scares the crap out them. The last thing they want to do is compete with 1000’s of small, localized producers who can produce fuel cheaper than they can suck it out of the ground. Something like that might introduce REAL competition into the marketplace, and they certainly wouldn’t want that.

Yeah, but…

2.) It’s too difficult to grow algae. They are absolutely right. In fact, it is so difficult to grow algae that most people have to buy industrial grade chemicals to kill it in their swimming pools and bird baths. The products on the market to “rid yourself of algae” far out number the products to promote growth.  If it is so hard to grow algae why are there so many products out there to control the growth of it? Most people can’t kill it if they want to.

The fact is that algae is one of the most prolific life forms in the history of the earth, responsible not only for the vast oceans of oil under the surface, but also allowed every other life form to evolve. It is one of the basic building blocks of life. Without algae, there would be no life as we know it. It exists in every climate, even on the polar caps. The truth is, the opposite is true, most people have a hard time getting rid of it, or controlling it, …not growing it.

Yeah, but…

3.) You need high-tech equipment to get started. If you mean the kind of high-tech equipment you can find at your local pet and/or fish aquarium store, yes. In fact, you might even have to spend upwards of $30 or so for this high-tech equipment to start experimenting. So if your idea of “high-tech” is maintaining a gold fish bowl, then this is certainly a reason to stop right there.

Yeah, but…

6 Myths About Algae Biofuels4.) It’s impossible and/or algae oil doesn’t really exist. Yes, algae oil is a complete myth. Lucky for us, scores of these people are on hand to point this out and save us from embarrassing ourselves. It is now so impossible that every oil company, all the major airlines, NASA, the Army, the Navy, the Air force, the Dept. of Energy, President Obama, over 100 schools and colleges, 1000’s of companies, not to mention 100,000’s of ordinary people all over the world, have all decided to join in the madness, mayhem, and mass hysteria.

Yeah, but…

5.) You can’t hope to compete. Especially if you don’t try. They are 100% correct on that one too. It’s amazing that if you never do anything, never take a chance, or never try, how true those words of wisdom always seem to be.

Yeah, but…

6.) If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Now this is a tricky one. The ones perpetuating this myth are usually the algae entrepreneurs themselves. THEY don’t want the competition. So if you’re lucky enough to meet someone in the biz don’t expect them to say “why this is the easiest money I ever made!” They will tell you about the long, grueling, hours. The long days of trial and error. Ideas lost or stolen. The problems involved in scale up. Technology that never works as planned, etc. And it’s probably somewhat true too.

Psst….I got a secret a I want to share…this is true in any business, or any start-up. Ask any entrepreneur. It’s NEVER as easy as they thought it was going to be going in. The difference? They didn’t give up. So SOMETHING must be going right and making it worthwhile. Like my father used to say “Listen to a person’s actions first, his words second.”

The moral of the story? There has never been any shortage of negative people. They are not an endangered species. They want you to believe you can’t succeed because THEY couldn’t. You can believe the nay-sayers if you want, or you can try it yourself. Spend a few bucks and possibly change the entire course of your life.

Yeah, but…

There is no time like the present to get started. Try it yourself and see how easy it is.


The “Algae Revolution” has begun.

graphics courtesy of


How To Bring Algae To Market

OK, so you’re growing algae like gangbusters.

You’ve researched your market, you know which algae strains sell for the highest dollar.

You know how much algae you can produce.

You’ve built your PBR, (or open pond) it’s working way better than expected.

Now what do you do with it?

If you’ve gotten to the point above and you’re asking yourself that question, you haven’t been listening and you missed the boat. If you haven’t gotten to the point above then you’re lucky to be reading this email. :+)

That is the FIRST question you should be asking, not the last.

In any business venture the primary question you should understand is how to market and sell your product. The answer determines the course of action for everything that follows.

EX: Marketing to biodiesel producers is going to be completely different than health food consumers. It will involve different volumes of algae, different production tools, even a completely different sales mindset.

To help you understand this critical step, picture a pyramid. The bottom third of that pyramid, we’ll label “biofuels.” That’s because it takes the most volume (production) and dollar for dollar, you’ll also get the lowest price per pound.But you’ll also enjoy the most buyers as well.


Because 1.) For the algae to be useable in biofuels, you have to add a more difficult harvesting step as well as the extraction step to render it into useable oil.You’ll also need to produce massive volumes of algae to make it pay.

2.) Adding that harvesting/extraction step(s) means more volume, more time, more equipment, to arrive at a sell-able product.

On the second tier of the pyramid, we’ll call that animal feed/fish feed/fertilizer.

Pound for pound, it is worth more. It still has a huge market, but there is no costly oil extraction step involved. Depending on the strain involved, you may still have harvesting challenges to overcome. On the other hand, your chances of finding native algae growing wild and free for the taking just went up by 100%. It would still need “down-stream processing” or a “value added” process to make it worth more money but you’ve sidestepped all the major hurdles and challenges of biofuels. It’s almost straight “farming.”

At the apex of the pyramid well call that health food/bio-chemicals/cosmetics

It’s here you’ll find the biggest bang for your buck. You grow the least amount of algae, and make the most money. Because cosmetic, health food, and chemical companies will pay big bucks for the right kind of ingredients. Omega-3 oils are at a premium both in dollars and markets.

Of course, there are a lot more niches and sub-niches that could go into this than I’m outlining here. I’m scratching the surface and simplifying for the benefit of illustrating my point.

So Now I’ll ask the mind-blowing question…

What if you could produce all three types of products in the pyramid?

Do you think that would improve your chances of success?

Yes, it’s possible.

As evidence of the coming explosion in home cultivated algae farms, Algae Industry Magazine has an interesting article today on “Algae Microfarming” citing…

“Many people have asked “How can I grow algae?” Gardeners, farmers and algaepreneurs want to grow algae without deep scientific expertise, experience and knowledge. In fact, small-scale algae farming has been tested for 30 years all over the world. Innovative, inexpensive and efficient small systems have been operating in villages in the developing world. In France there are over 100 algae microfarmers, and a school curriculum for growing algae. These small growers are selling their own products directly in their local region.”

In a world-wide climate of massive unemployment, “down-sizing,” “right-sizing,” and outsourcing, few opportunities exist today to create a lasting income that can serve your family for generations, help the global village, while at the same time, contribute to saving the environment. The Algae Revolution presents just such an opportunity.

You can get all the details below

The “Algae Revolution” has begun.

PS…As you know, timing is everything in business. And as in this case, there’s no time to lose. So if you have any interest whatsoever, now is the time to take action. Before it slips your mind and before it’s too late.

World Renewed Energy Plans to Open Commercial Algae Biofuel Facility in South Carolina

Later this month if all goes as planned, Renewed World Energies (RWE), an alternative energy development company based in Georgetown, S.C., will throw the switch on what it claims will be the world’s first commercially-viable, closed system, automated microalgae production facility in Forsite Development’s ReVenture ‘eco-industrial’ park.

RWE said its “Algae Photo Bioreactor” can be a source of affordable biofuel by turning algae into transportation fuel as well as biomass feedstock and other commercial uses. The firm said it will deploy its technology as part of the closed-loop waste integration system used by tenants of ReVenture Park, the former 667-acre Superfund site along the Catawba River.

Read full article here.

My eBooks Suck…

OK, yeah, yeah,  I heard you…

Courtesy of (CCL)

Everybody hates the anti-theft software and wants me  to go back to (unsecured) Adobe .pdf’s. Or, as one eloquent writer told me recently…

“Your digital book sucks! 1 year ago I got one from you and frozen the program every 15 20 pages I can’t close the window I have to restart my computer. For this kind of money I shouldn’t have this aggravation. I hate the whole java program too. And I am not the only one with this problems trust me. And now I got it from you again and it does the same damn thing again And its not my computer its your program!”

(By the way, it’s ALMOST ALWAYS (99% of the time) a setting on your computer or anti-virus software, as it turned out in the case above. (Of course, it would also help if they read the order page BEFORE buying, or the download page, or the auto email sent  AFTER buying where typical solutions are explained.)

Everyone wants unsecured .pdf’s.  That isn’t realistic in today’s digital world. If you have a product that sells for $5.99, that might be an option, as long as  you don’t care that it gets passed around like popcorn, and people are more interested in stealing it than paying for it.

If you have a valuable, one of a kind product, (and I do) it isn’t.

I don’t understand the venom and hostility towards something they encounter everyday, in every store they go into, in the offline world of their lives. From Wal-Mart to Barnes and Noble, From the Dollar-Tree store to Nordstroms. Do they go up to the security personnel in those stores and scream at them for the inconvenience?

How about software? When was the last time ANYONE bought software that didn’t have more intrusive anti-theft devices built in? If I install Microsoft Office on more than 2 computers I have to call them and explain why. Not to mention type in a 25 digit number to get it back. Same with Adobe, Corel, and many others.

Can you think of any offline bookstore that doesn’t safeguard their property? Can you think of ANY business online or offline, that allows rampant theft to go unchecked, period?

How about your personal property? Do you leave your car unlocked and the keys in the ignition? When you go to work, or on vacation, I bet you leave the front doors to your house wide open and unlocked, right?

If you don’t, why should I? My copyright IS my personal property.

What most aren’t getting is digital theft is just too rampant. It’s not a myth or an illusion. One day a few years ago, I had over 5000 hacks and downloads IN ONE DAY. No joke. Do the math. If you have a good product, people want to rip it off. That’s the way the digital world is.

digital theft

Courtesy of

I know you guys think I’m just raking the money in hand over fist.

The truth is a lot different.

The truth is the website break even most years. I say most, because it lost money last year. My consulting work supports this website…not the other way around. Only one year did it actually make a “profit.” At least by the IRS sense of the word. (I have profited by meeting a lot of cool people, though)

I’ve never been compensated for the 1000’s of hours of research and writing that went into these books. This is a labor of love…not profit. If it was all about profit, I would’ve quit years ago. You may think they’re overpriced, but my competitors are selling them for much more. Up to 10-20 times more in some cases. NO ONE ELSE sells this level of quality at my price. No one. Nor have I raised prices in 5 years.

Oh wait…I can hear the comment now….”but eBooks don’t COST you anything.”

They don’t cost anything if you can find graphic designers, web designers, web hosting, book formatters, editors, proof-readers, internet researchers, affiliates, (50% off the top to those guys) publishers, printers, marketers, payment processors, third-party download services, search engine optimization specialists, PPC ad specialists, professional software programmers, internet lawyers, who all work for charity and give away their valuable time and services. And of course, you pay yourself nothing as well. Then you’re right, it doesn’t cost anything. It’s been my experience not too many people offer professional services for free.

But to all the people who think eBooks don’t cost anything to produce, why don’t you A.) give it whirl and I’ll sit at your knee and take notes, or B.) offer ME your services for free in exchange? How long would you be willing to work for free? You know, just because you’re a nice guy and all.

So here’s the deal. I can…

  1. Keep the anti-theft software in place, and try to keep the prices the same. ( I’ll ignore the whining and complaining)
  2. I can get rid of the eBooks altogether and just sell paperbacks. (and no supporting bonus material…your loss because they’re needed and necessary.)
  3. I can add the bonus material as separate paperbacks, but just sell paperbacks…no eBooks. (and the price of the books will have to go up, paperback price will probably double to get the same amount of material.) I can’t find a publisher who will print books of this size and content without adding separate volumes.
  4. I guess another option is, the minute I get a anti-theft software complaint, I refund them, disable their Ebooks and tell them to move along.

Anyhoo…I’d like to know what you think. This is your chance to weigh in and make a difference. If I don’t get any replies, or enough of them, I’ll simply make the decision without your input. Probably I ‘ll just discontinue the eBooks and go to paperbacks only.

So take a vote below by adding a comment. Choose door number one, two, three, or four.

Small Scale vs. Large Scale Algae Biofuels Cultivation

Small Scale vs. Large Scale Algae Bio fuels ProjectsSmall Scale vs. Large Scale Algae Bio fuels Projects

I was talking to a consultant for Exxon algae bio fuels program. (Remember these are the guys that sank 600 million dollars into algae biofuel research.) We were talking about the difference between small scale cultivation and large scale.

“Just because you can brew beer in your basement doesn’t mean you compete with Budweiser.” And “If you can’t grow a small amount of algae first, you won’t be able to grow a large amount either.” And still another…

“If you are not running enough tests that are really failing, then you are not doing your job…we fail all the time. You’ve got to fail first in order to succeed. It sucks, it hurts, it does damage to your ego.  But it’s the only way to hit home runs the next time.”

Wise words.

So many people seem to be caught up in the fantasy of large scale production and being the next J. Paul Getty that they overlook what actually works. Then they fail miserably, and blame the entire world.

Large scale, commercial scale, algae oil production is not reality at this point in time.  (There are some BIG small scale projects though) It is a pass time for the big boys only. If Exxon with 600 million dollars can’t do it, it’s time for a re-think.

Some people want to immediately jump into the deep end of the pool, investing time, and money without first checking how deep the water is. There are complexities at commercial scale which can’t be envisioned. It’s not a matter of “simply scaling up small scale.”

Only small scale is real world, right here, right now. It has been proven over and over, by thousands of people, all over the world. (Most of them used my books)

The thing to keep in mind is the applications for small scale are endless. You don’t have to be Exxon, or have 600 million dollars to make money in algae.

For example, I hear from..

  • Trucking companies wanting to make small scale algae biodiesel “bio refineries” to services their fleets.
  • Green houses looking to offset their utility costs as well as use organic fertilizer.
  • Aquaculture and fish farmers, looking to offset fish feed costs.
  • Farmers wanting to slash their fuel/fertilizer/animal feed costs.
  • Survivalists wanting an “all in one solution” for when they head to the hills.
  • Health food enthusiasts who can’t say enough about the benefits of adding algae to their diets.
  • Cancer survivors who credit their survival to algae.
  • Cosmologists and dermatologists who swear by algae as a skin treatment.
  • People from all walks of life who have used algae to fight obesity, diabetes, ulcers, and arthritis, to name a few.

Small scale, localized algae production are becoming more and more a reality.

I have it from a number of good sources that small scale, pre-fab home units will be hitting the market soon. When they do, I’ll review them and post my results here.

Having said that, there’s research going on at a break-neck pace, in this country, as well as others,  trying to bring large scale algae bio fuel production on line.

This isn’t to say commercial scale algae bio refineries are way off into the distant future, they aren’t. AlgaeTec, along with OriginOil, just inked a deal to build the first commercial scale plant in Australia.

  • The US Army is researching ways of utilizing mobile battlefield algae “bio refineries” to shorten fuel supply lines. Think “MASH” units for biofuels.
  • The US Navy wants to employ algae biorefineries on ships so that they create their own fuel at sea.
  • Towns and cities are starting to see the benefit of having localized fuel production in their districts and creating zoning specifically for them.
  • The airlines are also moving into algae in a big way. Asiana Airline landed a jet at LAX powered by Algae jet fuel.
  • As I write this Sapphire Energy issued a press release saying “first Phase testing” of their “green Crude Farm” has been completed on time and under budget.

Speaking of MASH units, here’s Alan Alda “Hawkeye Pierce” of the television show “MASH” extolling the virtues of algae and drinking it at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

[youtube width=”500″ height=”300″]EnOSnJJSP5c[/youtube]

There is nothing wrong with thinking big. But big accomplishments are made by taking small steps. Find out how you can start taking steps to lowering your bills, improving your health, or making money with algae.

Commercial Algae-to-Energy Facility Now Operational

Sapphire Energy, Inc., one of the world leaders in algae-based green crude oil production, announced the first phase of its Green Crude Farm, the world’s first commercial demonstration algae-to-energy facility,


Sapphire Energy's Green-Crude-Farm

is now operational. Construction of this first phase, which began on June 1, 2011, was completed on time and on budget. When completed, the facility will produce 1.5 million gallons per year of crude oil and consist of approximately 300 acres of algae cultivation ponds and processing facilities. By reaching this key milestone, Sapphire Energy is on target to make algae-based Green Crude a viable alternative fuel solution capable of significantly reducing the nation’s need for foreign crude oil, which will serve as the blueprint for scalable algae biofuel facilities globally.

As of today, Phase One of the project has reached the following milestones:

  • Construction: Completed on time and on budget
  • Unit Operations:  Conducting all united operations, including cultivation, harvest and extraction in a continuous process
  • Cultivation:  Biomass productivity exceeding the company’s goals
  • Harvest: Successfully harvested 81 tons of biomass

In building the Green Crude Farm:

  • 634 full-time equivalent employees were hired throughout the entire construction phase
  • $16 million was directly invested with local New Mexico contractors
[Editor’s note: Because this is a press release, it should be taken with a grain of salt.]

Read the full article here

NASA In Favor of Sea-Based, Floating Algae Bioreactors

sea based algae bioreactors

Courtesy of Future Science

How and where it will be possible to produce bio fuels at a scale that can compete with fossil fuels, without competing with agriculture for water, fertilizer and land, is a fundamental unanswered question.

We propose that the answer could be offshore membrane enclosures for growing algae. Micro-algae are the fastest growing biomass and best oil producers known; by cultivating microalgae offshore using waste water as a source of water and nutrients in floating photo bioreactors (PBRs), the system would not compete with agriculture.

Furthermore, freshwater microalgae clean the wastewater, capture CO2 and, if they accidentally escape, they cannot become invasive species because they cannot thrive in seawater. The seawater supports the PBRs, controls temperature and can be used for forward osmosis to concentrate nutrients and facilitate harvesting.

Algae products, wastewater treatment, carbon sequestration and compatible aquaculture support the economics of the system as a whole. The completion of a 2-year feasibility study on prototype PBRs, control systems, biofouling, wastewater treatment, life cycle analysis and energy return on investment sets the stage for future offshore studies.

Read the full article here