Whatever Happened to Algae and Biofuels?
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …A couple of voices expressed caution, prominent among them, algae’s Doctor No, John Benemann of Benemann Associates, who wanted at the time, “if algae looks good [for fuel], we’re all in trouble.” LiveFuels CEO Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones was early on the cautionary bandwagon, suggesting that most ventures were working off the wrong hypothesis and would never shake enough cost out of growing algae to go after the fuel markets.
Even Solazyme’s gold dust twins, CEO Jonathan Wolfson and president and CTO Harrison Dillon, cautioned that open-pond technology, or closed photobioreactors using CO2 and sunlight as feedstocks, were not a knock over when it came to working out a scalable, affordable technology. They openly reflected the lessons learned at a venture with “Sola” in its name, but processed to scale-up using grow-in-the-dark algae.
Back in 2009, you could hardly scan a golf broadcast for 30 minutes without seeing a message from ExxonMobil crowing about its algal biofuels research.
… But the focus at Aurora, reflecting the name change from Aurora Biofuels to Aurora Algae, is definitely shifted to nutraceuticals and nutrition-based products under the A2 brand.
…At the head of the pack in the chase for fuels, then as now, there’s Sapphire Energy.
Their demonstration facility is scheduled to open in 2014. There are skeptics. But you can see the Columbus facility in Google Earth these days, dominating the landscape of the southern New Mexico town, just a few miles north of the border.
Over at Sapphire, they have, from the start, been warning everyone that, to get algal biofuels done, you’ll need a very large war chest and a whole lot of time. READ MORE and MORE (Union-Tribune San Diego)