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California Approves Fuel Made From Algae

California has taken a giant leap forward in mainstreaming algae biofuels by offering it’s approval of a new 20% blend. Last month we saw a successful trial of algae biofuels being sold to consumers at gas stations. This month we see California moving forward and paving the way for successful, wide-spread, distribution.

In Sacramento, California, The Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards (DMS) has tested samples of a new 20 percent biodiesel blend fuel made from algae and is happy to report that the fuel is compliant with California’s quality specification for biodiesel blends. The new fuel became available November 13, 2012 at four gas stations in Berkeley, Oakland, Redwood City and San Jose as part of a pilot program.

The algae is not typical pond algae – it is produced specifically to consume sugar and convert it to stored oils that supply energy. The algae is grown in special reaction vessels under very sterile conditions to encourage maximum oil production.

The fuel is 20 percent algae biodiesel blended with low sulfur diesel fuel. Samples were tested to ensure overall high-quality engine performance and to ascertain that exhaust emissions will remain low. The tests were also good indicators that engine deposits and engine wear will be minimal, and that corrosion and filter plugging are reduced – very important factors for fuel used in diesel engines.

When evaluating biodiesel and other fuels, California adheres to standards set by ASTM International and SAE International, which meet the requirements of engine manufacturers worldwide. DMS has a rigorous program of sampling and testing for fuels sold at retail. A 2012 marketplace survey showed 99 percent quality compliance rate in gasoline and 98 percent compliance for diesel.

Persons experiencing problems with quality, quantity or product labeling of fuels or automotive products can contact their local county department of weights and measures or the DMS at 916-229-3000. The DMS website http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/dms/ has additional information about petroleum products as well as an online complaint form and links to county weights and measures offices.

What this means to the rest of us.

Basically, California is stealing the show in terms of setting the stage that the rest of the country will follow. They were the first to establish city zoning areas for algae biofuels, the first to establish guidelines, the first to sell algae biofuels publicly, now the first to grant governmental approval. I would also expect some of the first commercialized algae biofuel production centers to start moving to California as well.

This is both good and bad. It’s no secret that while California is no doubt a leader, it also has its own particular way of doing things. Which sometimes fit, and sometimes doesn’t, with the rest of the country. The various law makers being what they are, tend to look at what one state is doing and if seeing no glaring mistakes, adopt the same rules and regulations without much introspection.

On the other hand, implementation has to start somewhere. California is as good a place as any, and better than most. The legal groundwork has to begin. Beginning sooner is better than beginning later. It doesn’t hurt that California has many natural attributes, both in climate and in infrastructure, which make it an ideal place for algae biofuel start ups.

Everyone knows they can certainly use the tax dollars.

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.

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