Friday, December 12, 2008

Darpa Making Algae Jet Fuel

Interesting Wired Article:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wired on Biofuel for Planes

Are biofuels for planes in our future?

Global Green Divests from Valcent

Global Green Solutions Inc. has reduced it's exposure to the algae to oil product called Vertigro developed by Valcent Inc. According to Biodiesel magazine, at least one of the reasons is the additional R&D required to keep the project moving forward.

It's been awhile since I've blogged about algae to oil. I've been thinking about widening the scope of this blog to include all efforts to produce oil from algae and not focus so much on Valcent. Sound off with your comments. I think what I'd like to do is build out a community forum with blog, chat and forums.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Verticrop launch

A little news article on the launch of Verticrop by Valcent.  Here's what Valcent has published (taken from their website) as teh major benefits of the new system:

VertiCrop is an innovative and exciting vertical growing system which:

  • Produces approximately 20 times the normal production volume for field crops
  • Requires 5% of the normal water requirements for field crops
  • Can be built on non arable lands and close to major city markets
  • Can work in a variety of environments: urban, suburban, countryside, etc.
  • Minimises or eliminates the need for herbicides and insecticides
  • Will have very significant operating and capital cost savings over field agriculture
  • Will drastically reduce transportation costs to market, resulting in further savings, higher quality and fresher foods on delivery and less transportation pollution
  • Is modular and easily scalable from small to very large food production situations

Monday, July 7, 2008

Call for Interviews

Are you making your own biodiesel from algae?  Get in touch with me so we can interview you and describe your efforts to the 3000 people visiting this blog every month....with possible exposure to the 45000 readers of the rest of my blog network.  email me at

Algae Commercialization: Business Roundtable, Research and Networking Forum

Thanks to the National Algae Association, we have folks making it easier for all of us to take advantage of oil derived from algae.  Years ago, they were just focused on clearing algae from golf course lakes so people could find balls accidently hit thata way.  But now, they are using their experience to further algae businesses.  Nice switch around there folks.  OK, only kidding.

On July 17th, they will be holding their Business Rountable at the Woodlands, TX.  The agenda looks pretty green to me.  The admission is $100 for Non members but includes cocktails so maybe that's a bargain in relation to your drinking habits? 

Fields of Fuel Interview and Solazyme segment

Here's an interview on the Matter Network of the makers of the film Fields of Fuel.  Directory Josh Tickell and produce Greg Reitman are interviewed. I haven't seen the film but apparently there is a piece on algae as a producer of biodiesel.  Here's the section of the movie on Solazyme, another company producing biodiesel from algae.  Back in January, it was reported that Solazyme inked a deal with Chevron. 

The film won the Sundance Audience maybe it will make it to theatres?


A little overview article on algae to oil presenting for the first time to me at least the term "oilgae".  Check it out

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Even Iran is getting into the Algae Biodiesel Act

OK, I exaggerated. Actually, I noticed a small article in an online Iranian journal covering the use of algae to derive biodiesel.   

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Algae Business and Overview

Erica Gies gives us this respectable article covering the interest and industry propping up around the production of biodiesel from algae.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Can you grow your own biodiesel from algae?

If you noticed my prior blog entry below, I had asked if everyone was growing algae to convert into biodiesel? It caused me to do a little research and sure enough, there's a how-to ebook on the market that walks you through the process. What else are you going to do with your time?

Check this do it yourself algae to biodiesel how-to ebook.

Is everyone growing algae for biodiesel?

Seems like alot of academic research these days is focusing on algae as a potental fuel source for biodiesel. But instead of cranking out a 50 pager no one will ever read, Michelle Sabaoun and Doug Holland at Brunswick Community College are growing their own algae to convert into biodiesel which they hope will allow them to power tractos and other equipment at the college. By the way, where is MIT or Caltech when an energy crisis rears it's ugly head? Can we get some relief here from the brilliant among us? In any case, what I found interesting in the article here was this excerpt:

The technology to convert algae into a biofuel is becoming more and more sophisticated as research spreads through private industry and academia. But Sabaoun notes that the research is not shared, which is not surprising considering the potential economic windfall that could come to whomever figures out the most economical conversion process.

Hey valcent, is anyone in academia furthering your studies? Contact me and let's discuss.

Algae to Biodiesel News Roundup

There's been alot of activity and news surrounding the idea of growing algae and turning it into biodiesel. First, an Israeli firm Seambiotic Ltd is partnering with Seattle-based Inventure Chemical to build a pilot plant in Israel. Hhhhmm, I'll spare you the analysis of the idea of Israeli algae-based biodiesel biofuel vs Arab oil. Seambiotic developed it's own strains of algae and they grow it on an open pond. I wonder if it could grow in the Valcent vertigro system?

In related news, Science Daily explains to us that a couple Kansas State University scientists think the algae that grows in the oceans could possibly be harvested. The National Science Foundation gave these guys ~$100k to do their study. Excerpt: "Certain algal species are high in oil content that could be converted into such fuels as biodiesel, according to Pei and Yuan. " Also of note was Pei on the goal of the research, "to develop a cost-effective process for growing algae on solid carriers in the ocean for biofuel manufacturing."

Advantages of Vertical Growing

I've embarked on a little self education effort to learn more about vertical growing as a function of my interest in utilizing algae to make biodiesel and vertigro. The idea of vertical farming was something that I had actually been thinking about prior to learning about Valcent and its Vertigro approach. Recently, I came across this list of advantages of Vertical Growing. I'll post the first 15 of 25 and refer you to the originating document for the rest. But here's the list:

1) Space savings: 3-8 times more plants per acre with vertical growing.
2) Less energy and less water (up to 85% savings on water)
3) Less diseases, especially from soil (no soil splattering)
4) Less contamination, especially from soils or irrigation water.
5) Little or no herbicides
6) Longer seasons: soil temperature and rainfall not a factor
7) Higher market prices in the “Off” season
8) Direct sales: cleaner, harvest standing up, no washing, etc.
9) Soil type is not a factor.
10) Excessive rainfall is less damaging.
11) Less fertilizer waste: Organic possibilities
12) Less water waste (Water Management approval)
13) Less Pesticides (no soil sterilants such as Methyl Bromide or Vapam)
14) Less water used for misting or “watering in” in field crops.
15) Crops: Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, spinach, herbs, etc.

Going Off Grid???

I maintain 3 related blogs: one on HHO Gas and hydrogen fuel injection systems, one on Eestor Ultracapacitors and the one you are reading. My interests in this area are not unlike the millions of others who are paying outrageous prices for fuel now. I'm happy to be doing a small part related to getting information out to people about alternative energy solutions.

My interests have grown to where I'm considering the degree to which I could go off grid in my Washington DC area townhouse. My research on this is just starting and I might start a new blog on the topic if there's enough material. For now, I'm probably going to go ahead and purchase these Ebooks on the topic. Drop me a note if you've got any ideas around this topic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alternative Fuels are the new Software

Back in the 80s and 90s leading up to the Internet boom that preceded 9/11, software companies were oftentimes great investment bets. Typically, the software solved a business or widespread consumer problem and could grow rapidly via evolving distribution channels. Today, with our energy crunch in full swing, alternative energy companies are poised to become the next software companies of our day. Growing fuels from algae, harnessing solar or wind power and storing it with next generation ultracaps, many companies today have the ability to upset the tradition oil markets with breakthrough technologies. You may find good investment opportunities if an alternative energy company mirrors a software company in these 3 ways:

1) Revenue Model
The company's revenue model is based on licensing not manufacturing or producing (eg. Algenol). Alternative energy companies that try to take their technology from concept to factory to showroom floor are climbing an uphill battle that they may not survive. Focus on companies that focus on their tiny niche capability and allow others to distribute it.

2) Install Base Prestige
The company must have a marquee customer utilizing the technology successfully today with proven prospects tommorrow. The oil companies these days are flush with cash. They are ready to experiment and spend. A small company that lands an initial licensing deal is more likely to land similar deals.

3) Alternative Energy 2.0
By staying lean and focusing on enhancing existing capabilities or going beyond existing patents, alternative energy companies can create ongoing revenue streams through licensing upgrades to existing products.

The main thing you want to look at with today's alternative energy companies is it's ability to allow it's technology to proliferate rapidly. A company that tries to go head to head with a deep pocket entity like Exxon Mobile is not likely to last and your investment dollars should go elsewhere. But if a company has a technology that it can sell in small quantities to a large number of people to seed a new market, that's one where you probably want to see your dollars grow.

The jury is still out on whether Valcent and it's Vertigro strategy fits the model but the seeds are certainly there. Picture farmers, small oil producers, ranchers and regular traditional american entrepreneurs attempting to produce their own algae farms. If their initial experiments succeed, the second round of investment can increase rapidly through several cycles.

Algenol lands $100Mil licensing fee

Biofields has licensed Algenol's algae production technology and is building an $850Mil algae farm in the Sonoran desert according to this CNET Article. Algenol's approach is a little different from Valcent's vertigro approach in that it intends to derive ethanol directly from algae enhanced to produce it.

Valcent Competitor News

CNET documents a changing of the guard at Greenfuel Technologies. It's one of a few other companies trying to do what Valcent is attempting to do in turning algae into biofuel on a mass scale. The article covers some of the challenges Greenfuel faced in it's initial proof of concept work with an Arizona utility company.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bloomberg Interview

Here's a Glen Kertz interview on bloomberg. Kertz says it takes 1700 gallons of water to get 1 gallon of ethanol from corn. He says it takes 3 gallons of water to grow a gallon of ethanol via algae.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Green Crude Production

Sapphire Energy announced that they had successfully produced 91 octane gasoline with ATSM certification following a process that began with algae as it's underlying source material. This is an amazing development for those who are tracking the development of algae as a biofuel since it essentially means a proof of concept exists that takes us all the way from the lab to the gas pump where we need it to be.

The infrastructure to support mass production of this process is "modular, transportable and fueled by sunlight--not constrained by land, crops or other natural resources," according to Sapphire.

The article goes on to reference a phrase growing in usage, "Green Crude Production."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

National Algae Association

The National Algae Association is a non-profit organization comprised of algae researchers, algae production companies and the investment community who share the goal of commercializing algae oil as an alternative feedstock for the biofuels markets. The NAA gives its members a forum to efficiently evaluate various algae technologies for potential early stage company opportunities.

Also, check out this online presentation. Good overview of biofuels place in the energy marketplace as well as detailed information on algae as a biofuel source.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

IEEE Article

Wow. The credibility meter is starting to tick up since we now have an article fro none other than the IEEE (website concerning Vertigro and Valcent. 

This is the article you will want to read to really begin understanding what Valcent is up to with Veritigro.  Excerpt:

Once the algae density reaches a predetermined level—say, 1.5 grams per liter of fluid—the harvesting begins. Over a 24-hour period, half the fluid is skimmed off, the algae is removed, and the water is returned to the tank. Because the skimming rate is set to match the rate at which the algae will grow back to their original density, the system becomes a continuous process, perpetually generating oil as long as CO2 and sunlight are available, says Kertz.

South Bend Local News Story

Here's a story from a local news station in South Bend on Vertigro.  Quote from Glen Kertz:  

“If you take a tenth of the state of New Mexico and converted in solar algae alone this would be all the transportation in the United States,” said Kertz.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wow! Tiny Washingtonpost Article

Came across this article in the Washington Post today about a Mexican company called Biofields that owns a license to make ethanol from algae. It plans to invest a whopping $850Million to build a plant in the Mexican desert. It will be able to produce 250 million gallons of fuel by 2012!

Here's the Biofields website. Hable espanol?

I can't figure out who they got the license from though. Is it Valcent?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Food crops not good for Biofuels

Lawrence Journal World & News has a quick rant on the use of soybeans & corn to produce biofuels. They quote Glen Kertz, President and COO of Valcent Products:

"...algae can produce 100,000 gallons of oil per acre compared to 30 gallons of oil from corn and 50 gallons per acre from soybeans. "

I guess that's about 2000 times the yield. As to the overall point of the article: yes, it leaves alot left for Valcent to validate. Specifically, for me, I want to see what their plan is to create a true production plant. The one in El Paso is positioned as a test. Valcent should tell us about their plans to achieve real production ramp ups.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Biofuel News

Good alternative energy site. Links to biodesal stories. Sample Story.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Smart Company Mention

An Australian online magazine has a mention of Valcent's Vertigro technology highlighting that "algae has great potential as eco-energy becauseit grows rapidly and up to 50% of its weight is lipid oil that can beused as a biofuel."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Miles OBrien CNN story

Vertigro overview

18 gallons of oil/acre/yr 

700-800 gallons of oil/acre/yr
20,000 gallons of oil/acre/yr

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vertigro Overview

This is a great article by Dan Sweeney that provides a nice overview of Vertigro.

Vertical Vegetable Growing

Interesting vertical vegetable system that Valcent products.


A commercial module of one-eighth acre (5,445 square feet) is estimated to have capital costs of $565,000; using a wholesale price for leafy lettuce of $1.10 per head, may have gross annual revenues in excess of $1,300,000 with earnings before tax of approximately $505,000 supporting management's estimated 89% internal rate of return over 10 years.

Who owns what?

Trying to figure out the relationship between Global Green Solutions and Valcent. It appears that GGS markets products that Valcent develops.

Here's a graph of their stock prices for the last year. Their businesses must be sufficiently unrelated to produce such divergent pricing activity.

Update: here's a good overview of the relationship at The Energy Blog. Article from Oct 2006.

Vertigro by Vacent

I decided to start this blog to track coverage for a technology known as Vertigro which produces a an "algae derived fuel" and is made by Valcent Products Inc.

A CNN News Story prompted my interest.