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

City of Tulare, CA To Build Algae Jet Fuel Plant

The wastewater from Tulare County dairy operations may soon be used to power jets zooming overhead thanks to a brand new facility converting moist algae into biofuel.

Recently, the City of Tulare leased four acres next to its large wastewater treatment plant for the operation, which will use CO2 and other gases generated from the site’s adjacent fuel cells to grow the algae in large tubs of water.

The lipids, or oils, the algae produces as it grows can then be extracted and refined for use as a low emitting jet fuel.

The plant is the joint venture of Pacific Algae Oil consisting of the nonprofit association Algae International Group and Huntington Beach-based Pacific Oil Products.

According to Pacific Oil’s CEO David Gair, the facility is currently in a pilot-scale phase, with the capacity to produce around a half a million gallons of the fuel annually.

But given the right equipment and enough gases, he said, as much as 6 million gallons a year could be pumped out each year.

“I would like to give it 30 days before we get a commercial project underway,” said Gair, who started Pacific Oil Products in 2008 selling presses and other equipment to extract plant oils. “To use all our resources will take until the end of the year in order to get centrifuges, oil presses, ponds, green houses.”

A study last year by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that American-grown algae can produce 21 billion gallons of algal oil by 2022 consistent with the advanced biofuels goal set out by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Read full article here:

Sapphire Energy: The Green Crude Farm

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

Read the full article here:

My Big Stupid Failure in Algae Biofuels

OK, true story…

Saigon street scene

Back in the day I was a teacher in Vietnam. This was in 1995. For the most part in those days, Vietnam was a semi-closed society. Clinton had normalized relations but you would never know it. Most Vietnamese had never known an American. I know this sounds illogical, since Americans fought a war there, but for almost 20 years, the only “round eyes” were Russians.They weren’t too many people left in the 30-40 year old range. The country was like 70% under 20.

Of course, before I left, my family, my friends, all told me not to go. I would be kidnapped, I would be killed, etc. Ironically, it turned out, when people found out I was American they were thrilled. You see, the stories passed down were of the “good old days” and most Americans soldiers were known as kind and generous. The Vietnamese had many more good memories, than bad…at least in the South.

Anyhoo…fast forward 20 years and I’m in one of the most economically crippled countries in the world. Fuel was a big deal. Fuels powers everything, including lights, fans, and transportation. Sit inside a concrete box, with temperature over 100 degrees, and no AC, lights, or fans, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean. I literally sweated off close to 30 pounds.

We had constant power interruptions. Everyday. Sometimes lasting a few minutes, sometimes lasting hours, or days. “Brown out” is too kind of a word, and “black outs” doesn’t really fit either.

A Python who decided to make our open pond his home.

Maybe the powers-that-be took pity of me, but they went out and bought a generator. This worked for about a day…until they ran out of fuel. I knew I wasn’t going without a fan in my classroom.

I had always been interested in alternative fuels and I remembered from past studies that during World War I and II, they used vegetable oil for diesel.

We collected used vegetable oil from restaurants, and I do mean some really nasty stuff, dark, burned, filled with food chunks, I mean they used that stuff over and over. We used it and figured out how to make diesel fuel out it. The fans came back on.

First people were fine giving it to us, then they saw we were using it to make fuel, that it had value, and that whole idea went out the window.

Fast forward again to 2005. We needed another fuel source. Enter algae.

This is when I started experimenting with pond scum, and growing it in bioreactors.

It’s also when I made the stupidest mistake of my life.

We didn’t have any acrylic tubing, or anything fancy. In fact, we couldn’t have gotten a hold of any if our lives depended on it. We did everything by the seat of our pants, and local materials. One day I got the

There were still some old downed Huey's left back in the day.

brilliant idea of making a bio reactor out of bamboo. We had some BIG bamboo. (No, not the rolling paper kind, smart ass.) We saw no reason why it shouldn’t work and off we went to the shop and spent 100’s of hours trying to perfect something which would never, ever, work.

You see, we had a little problem of sunlight not penetrating the 3/8 inch bamboo walls. What an idiot.

Live and learn.

We did finally find a workable solution using, cheap, scrap material.

Now developing countries all over the world, as well almost 100 schools and universities are using the same principles to grow algae biofuels.

You can read about it here.


PS…If you want to hear more about my experiences in Vietnam in future editions of this newsletter, I have a 100 stories and about 1000 photos I can share. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

PPS…I’d also like to do a “Questions and Answers” Newsletter. If you have any burning questions you’d like answered about algae biofuels send them to me at dsieg (at)making-biodiesel-books (dot) com

PPPS…Also, the September discount is “Making Algae Biodiesel at Home.” You can save $15 off the regular price of the eBook and $29 off the paperback. FOR 4 DAYS ONLY, by using the discount code on checkout of “SEPTSALE“.(All caps)  Click here for details on this eBook.

Do You Want To Profit From The Recession?

There’s no doubt that many people, farmers, truckers, small businesses, greenhouse owners, are jumping on the “make money with algae” bandwagon. After all, why not? Anyone with a garage, a backyard, or a small piece of land can start making money with algae.

Algae “farms” are starting to pop up. Even a new word is being added to the professional lexicon-“Algaepreneur.”

An “algaepreneur” is someone who has decided to take the plunge and start making money with algae.

Consider this; a farmer in the US is lucky if he can get $600 (last year’s prices) per acre for corn. Is it any wonder when..

  • Diesel fuel is selling for $9.00 a gallon in Australia. At 3000 gallon per acre that’s $27,000 per acre
  • Omega 3 oils can fetch up to $6000 per metric ton
  • Organic fertilizer $230 per ton and 40 tons/year/acre = $9,200 per acre.
  • Algae animal feed: @$290 to 325/MT   40/tons/yr/acre = $11,600 to $13,000 per acre.

Granted, algae present challenges different than other crops, but the rewards will go to the early adopters, the one’s vision and the desire to succeed before the herd follows.

Take a look below at some of the pioneers

Algae Biofuels

Seaweed’s Promise for Algal Fuels

Seaweeds, a macro form of algae, hold great promise because of their potential for very high yields and high oil production while thriving on non-arable land. Another benefit is that they grow well in saline water. Traditionally crops will not excel in salt water and in some areas of the country valuable agricultural land has been taken out of production due to high concentrations of salt.

The result, Mitchell believes, will be a multi-trillion dollar industry that will disrupt the use of fossil fuels.

Health Food Products

Cellana, a leading developer of algae-based bioproducts, uses the most productive plants on earth – marine microalgae – to produce its ReNewTM line of Omega-3 EPA and DHA oils, animal feed, and biofuel feedstocks. Cellana’s patented ALDUOTM system enables economic, sustainable, and consistent production of photosynthetic algae at industrial scale.

Cellana intends to construct and operate commercial facilities to produce these products as integrated algae-based biorefineries.


Algae Cosmetics

Solazyme, a San Francisco-based algae fuel startup, is expanding its brand by bringing algae technology into the nutrition and cosmetics industries. This week, the company unveiled Algenist, an anti-aging skincare line that uses microalgae compounds as a main ingredient.

The idea for the Algenist skincare line came from Arthur Grossman, a Stanford University professor and microalgae expert. Soon after the company’s inception in 2004, the Solazyme team came to Grossman to find out what applications microalgae might have besides biofuel. His response: skincare, primarily because algae successfully protect themselves against the same harsh environmental conditions as humans.


Algae Bio Plastics

What are bioplastics?

A sustainable alternative to traditional plastics, bioplastics are plastics that are fully or partially biobased, and/or biodegradable or compostable. In other words, they are plastics that are made from renewable resources (plants like corn, tapioca, potatoes, sugar and algae), and they will break down faster than traditional plastics, which are typically made from petroleum, and other fossil resources such as natural gas.


Forward thinking algae entrepreneurs are already jumping on the bandwagon. Big money is flowing to algal research and development in some of the world’s largest industries.
Big oil, the major airlines, big pharmaceutical, big agriculture, even the military is pumping money into this humble organism unparalleled in any time in human history.

With good reason…

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.