In Race to Algae Fuel, Sapphire Scores Point for Open Ponds
Martin Lamonica (MIT Technology Review) Sapphire Energy has started operation of its demonstration-scale algae farm, a project which perhaps brings more clarity to an industry debate over the best way to grow algae.
The San Diego-based company last week said that its Green Crude Farm in Columbus, New Mexico is producing algae at a higher rate of biomass yield than anticipated. The algae grow using sunlight, brackish water pumped from aquifers, and added nutrients.
The raceway ponds now cover 100 acres and Sapphire Energy’s plan is to expand the operation to 300 acres and produce 100 barrels of oil a day by the end of 2014, says Tim Zenk, the company’s vice president of corporate affairs. The plant was funded with $85 million from private investors, a $50 million Department of Energy grant, and a $54 million USDA loan guarantee.