09 Apr 2012:
Algae Biofuel Startup
Is Expanding Operations in New Mexico
A U.S. startup says it has raised enough funding to significantly expand what it calls the world’s first commercial-scale algae biofuel farm
, a 300-acre project its developers say could produce 1.5 million gallons of algae-based crude oil by 2014. Sapphire Energy, which so far has received more than $300 million
— including U.S. government funding — to develop its technology, has already begun building the plant in New Mexico. While many consider algae-based oil a promising fuel alternative since it can produce large amounts of oil without consuming fresh water supplies or farmland, the technology has not been shown to work on a commercial scale because of costs. Sapphire Energy hopes that by reducing the production costs at every stage of the process — from construction of the algae ponds to harvesting — it will be able to produce a product that’s competitive with oil priced at $85 per barrel within six years. Recent studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the larger-scale production of algae-based diesel through scaled-up versions of existing technology would cost several times more than conventional diesel.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.