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Algae Biomass Organization Announces San Diego Will Host the 2014 Algae Biomass Summit

ABO Logo1The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the algae industry, announced that the eighth annual Algae Biomass Summit will take place September 29-October 2 in San Diego, California, a global hub of algae research and commercial activity. The ABO is now accepting abstracts and proposals for keynote speakers, panel presentations and poster sessions at the event, the world’s largest algae industry conference. Speaking opportunities for the Summit are highly competitive, making the submission of high-quality abstracts before the April 1st deadline essential. Information about the event and call for abstracts can be found at

“The ability of algae to provide us with sustainable fuels, feeds and other products without depleting our freshwater supplies or our farmland has sparked more interest in this industry than ever before,” said Dr. B. Greg Mitchell, Chair of the Summit’s Program Committee and Research Biologist at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). “San Diego has more algae industry activity than any other city in the world, and we expect the 2014 Summit to draw on that community as well as a broader international group of scientists, entrepreneurs and Fortune 100 companies. The Summit’s regional tours of algae facilities, including algae farms in nearby Imperial Valley, will provide unique opportunities for participants to broaden their understanding of this rapidly expanding industry.”

Speakers and attendees at the Algae Biomass Summit will include national and international technologists, producers, scientists, investors, and end user companies. During the course of the event, leaders and attendees will discuss issues of critical importance to the emerging algae industry, including the commercial viability of algal production, current government and private initiatives, evolving technologies, processing concepts, life cycle analysis and project finance.

With new pilot, demonstration and commercial production facilities planned or operating around the U.S., the algae industry is rapidly emerging as an opportunity to address many of the energy, food, economic, and environmental challenges facing the world today. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in vehicles, recycle CO2, provide nutrition for animals and people, generate useful chemical products and create jobs for millions of Americans. Algae’s ability to produce high yields, grow in saltwater and on marginal lands means that they can be cultivated at large scales without harmful impacts on freshwater supplies or valuable agricultural land. More information can be found at

About the Algae Biomass Organization The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) is a 501(c)(6) non-profit whose mission is to promote the development of viable commercial markets for renewable and sustainable commodities derived from algae. Its membership is comprised of people, companies and organizations across the value chain. More information about ABO, including its leadership, membership, costs, benefits and members and their affiliations, is available at the website:


San Diego nominees for Biofuels Digest’s Transformative Technologies 2014

Today Biofuels Digest “announced nominations for Transformative Technologies 2014, in which organizations are recognized for their impact in transforming a feedstock, a process step, a processing technology, a molecule — and in which plants, towns or industrial complexes, and states and countries are recognized for transforming their economies through the use of new technology.”

The San Diego biorenewables cluster is well represented.

Transformation of an oilseed or tree

SGB JMax jatropha

Transformation of a microbe or algae

Sapphire Energy algae

Transformative Harvest, extraction or dewatering system

Sapphire Energy DAF dewatering

Molecule – biobased chemical

Genomatica BDO

Plant or integrated biorefinery

BP Biofuels – Tropical Bioenergia, Brazil

Town or industrial symbiosis

San Diego, California

Click for Biofuels Digest’s Transformative Technologies 2014 nominees announced


Algae Fuel Leaders Meet at Summit: San Diego Selected for 2014 Algae Biomass Summit

ABO Logo1The 2013 Algae Biomass Summit, the world’s largest event focused on algae technology, ended Oct. 3 in Orlando, Fla. Hosted by the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO), industry leaders revealed new production capabilities and forecasts for commercial quantities of biofuels, feeds, Omega-3 oils, plastics and other products derived from large-scale, industrial algae agriculture operations.

Speaking to a packed conference hall on Oct. 2, executives from Algenol, Sapphire Energy, Cellana, BioProcess Algae, Heliae, Algix and Aurora Algae all emphasized scaling up production as the industry’s next major priority as it begins to provide algae-derived fuels and a wide range of other products to worldwide markets. Matt Horton, CEO of alternative fuel retailer Propel Fuels, showcased research results demonstrating consumer preference for algae-based fuels.

Paul Woods, CEO of Florida-based Algenol Biofuels, unveiled a new vertical bioreactor design that has allowed the company to achieve algae-to-ethanol production capacities in excess of 10,000 gallons per acre at competitive prices. Algenol also uses its algae to produce renewable jet fuel, diesel and gasoline. The company expects that the new system, based on simple, easy to set up photobioreactors growing algae in seawater, will enable a rapid expansion to commercial production. 

“As fast as people can put up the bags, I can fill them with algae,” said Woods.

Algenol and Sapphire Energy both expect to meet production capacities in excess of one million gallons within the next year. That milestone was acknowledged as just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the industry’s goal of supplying markets with meaningful quantities of sustainable, renewable fuels derived from algae.

“A million barrels is a significant milestone but it’s only the beginning of what’s required,” said CJ Warner, Sapphire Energy’s CEO & chairman, who reported on Sapphire’s success in the past year in bringing its pilot-scale facility online, and announced they are selecting a site for a full production scale facility.

Beyond fuels, the ability of algae to be a source of fertilizers, feeds, plastics, and nutraceuticals was the subject of updates from executives at Cellana, BioProcess Algae, Heliae, Algix, and Aurora Algae. Algix, a Georgia-based company producing a range of algae-derived plastics, was among the companies expressing a growing interest in purchasing large quantities of algae from producers.

“We brought our checkbook and we’re taking orders,” said Michael VanDrunen, president and CEO of Algix.

The Summit came at a time when industry is increasingly looking for new sources of sustainable raw materials—feedstock—for a wide range of end-uses. Products made from algae are the natural solution to the energy, food, economic, and climate challenges facing the world today, contends ABO. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in vehicles, recycle CO2, provide nutrition for animals and people and create jobs for millions of Americans without harmful impacts on freshwater supplies or valuable agricultural land, the organization further claims.  More information can be found at

The 2013 Algae Biomass Summit will be held in San Diego.  San Diego previously hosted the Summit in 2009.


Cleantech’s Future in San Diego Heating Up – How Will You Benefit?

Clean technology is one of the newest sectors to receive widespread community attention and support.  However, issues abound on the economic health of the cleantech industry in the United States: bureaucratic red tape, subsidization uncertainty, and boom/bust cycles have all played a role spinning bleak narrative of the state of the cleantech industry in 2012, but a closer look reveals a very different picture.  Globally, three core technologies (solar photovoltaics, windpower and biofuels) are projected to grow over the next decade, nearly doubling from $248.7 billion in 2012 to $426.1 billion in 2022 (March 2013 report by Clean Edge, Inc.).  Furthermore, the underlying economics of water is opening up all kinds of new technological opportunities at a local level on a smaller scale. 

At 5:00 PM on Wednesday October 9th the MIT Enterprise Forum will present Cleantech’s Future in San Diego Heating Up – How Will You Benefit? 

Lee Krevat, Director of Smart Grid, SDG&E

David Andresen
, Board of Directors, PI Energy
Rick Halperin, Corporate Development, GC Green
Paul R. Brown, Visiting Professor and Director of Applied Research, University of South Florida, Patel College of Global Sustainability

The MIT Enterprise Forum’s reputation for thought-provoking programs is well deserved.  The networking opportunity is an added bonus.

Register today for the October 9th event.  Be sure to arrive at 5:00 PM with a fist full of business cards.


CleanTECH San Diego Awarded Grant to Support Region’s Biofuels Industry

Anderson, Jason HEADSHOT 9-12-12The statement which follows was released today by Jason Anderson, Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego.

We are excited to announce that CleanTECH San Diego, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation have been awarded a Regional Industry Clusters of Opportunity II (RICO II) grant from the California Workforce Investment Board.  This $250,000 grant is funded by Assembly Bill 118, Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, through the California Energy Commission and will help facilitate the continued development of our region’s biofuels industry.

As you know, the San Diego and Imperial Valley regions continue to be leaders in the advanced research and development of biofuels.  With the successful conclusion of the EDGE initiative, a state funded, industry-led program to train and educate workers in the biofuels industry, San Diego and Imperial Valley face additional obstacles in developing our biofuels industry.  As companies like Cellana, Sapphire Energy and Synthetic Genomics continue to refine their products here regionally, they’re turning elsewhere to commercialize their suite of biofuels products.  Although the research and development (more…)


Oberon Fuels Brings Production Units Online, Launching the First North American Fuel-grade DME Facilities

Oberon partnering with Volvo Trucks in North America and Safeway, Inc. to test heavy-duty commercial vehicles powered by clean-burning dimethyl ether (DME) produced from biomass

Oberon Fuels LogoThe first-ever North American production units for clean-burning, fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME) have been developed by Oberon Fuels, and will go online in June in the Imperial Valley region of southern California. The production facility and Oberon’s cooperation with Volvo Trucks in North America and Safeway, Inc. were announced at a press conference on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento today. The three companies are partnering to test DME performance in heavy-duty commercial Volvo trucks driven by Safeway for operations in the San Joaquin Valley.

San Diego-based Oberon Fuels has developed an innovative process that cost-effectively produces DME, an economically- and environmentally-advantageous fuel, (more…)


What will propel the drivers on the left coast in 2022?

My ten year vision for personal transportation in California is crystal clear.  It is definitely electricity or maybe algae biofuel or perhaps hydrogen or even natural gas or possibly what we are already doing only less so.  Recent reports confirm my long-held conviction that much of life is spent in the selective search for “facts” to support conclusions already embraced.  Here are some recently released resources you can utilize to rationalize your point of view.

Earlier this month saw the release of Electric Drive by ’25, How California Can Catalyze Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles by 2025  The 28 page report was jointly conceived by the law schools at Berkeley and UCLA.  Greg Haddow of San Diego Gas & Electric was one of the panel members at the May 2012 Climate Change Workshop that informed this analysis.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has released a new report called, A California Road Map: The Commercialization of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.  In San Diego, Pearson Fuels is currently developing its hydrogen business model for existing or newly-built gasoline stations in California.

The Algae Biomass Summit is underway this week in Colorado.  Adding to the fun is a turbo-charged, 800cc diesel powered track motorcycle from Holland.  UC San Diego has provided a 50/50 blend of biodiesel derived from algae and cooking oil waste.  Sapphire Energy’s contribution is a 100% algae-derived Green Crude diesel fuel.  Below the Surface’s ‘Driving Innovation’ Team established the first official algae-fueled motorcycle speed record during The Texas Mile land speed event in March reaching 94.6 mph. 

Even faster than the pond scum powered bike is the new Tesla Model S which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds.  Yesterday Tesla Motors unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra-fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona. The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCityElon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO is also the Chairman of SolarCity.  The use of the Supercharger stations will be free for Tesla Model S owners. 

UC San Diego has an established fleet of electric vehicles supported with the necessary charging infrastructure.  Yesterday they announced the installation of the first of 20 public EV charging stations on the campus in La Jolla.  Turnkey solar system provider Sullivan Solar Power is responsible for the installation.

Wildcat Discovery Technologies, a privately held San Diego company focused on battery materials development, said Wednesday it signed a multi-year joint development agreement to develop materials to improve rechargeable battery technology with Japan’s Ashai Kasei Corp., one of the world’s largest producers of advanced battery separators.  Wildcat maintains it can accelerate improvements in battery technology with its capabilities to design, develop and commercialize transformational advanced battery materials. The company claims its 32-person team of scientists and engineers uses proprietary high-throughput tools to develop and optimize materials.

The most expensive component in an electric car is the battery, so why not put it to work making EVs not just environmentally but also financially appealing? That’s the idea behind V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology.  The EV owner makes their battery available to the utility during a given period and, depending on supply and demand in the grid, the utility uses the car as a short time energy storage solution in order to help regulate the power frequency of the grid. The value of providing these regulation services is very high.  An article in Intelligent Utility magazine drew heavily on the explorative work being done by San Diego Gas & ElectricAlex Kim, director of customer innovations at SDG&E noted that “San Diego may have one of the highest densities of EVs in its region (more than 1,600) than any region in the country.  SDG&E also may be tops in distributed solar photovoltaic panels, with more than 18,000 grid-tied systems. In combination, those two resources support a V2G business model that would focus on localized benefits in addition to ancillary services for the wholesale market that serve an ISO or RTO.”  Xconomy is also on the V2G story with their article, Detroit Leading U.S. Development of New Vehicle-to-Grid Technology.   

The mix of what will fuel the cars of the future is uncertain.  What is absolutely certain is the unsustainability of a national car/truck infrastructure funded by the current fuel tax.  Even if electric vehicles fail to gain market share, the Federal mandate to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks is a road revenue killer.  An article in the Wall Street Journal last week warned, “Looking ahead, the Congressional Budget Office predicts new federal fuel-economy standards will reduce revenue by 21% in 2040 when they are fully phased in. To illustrate the effect of a 21% drop, the CBO estimates that if all cars on the road now met the stricter efficiency standards, it would mean a $57 billion cumulative reduction in revenue between now and 2022”.  This is another opportunity for Congress to act in the present rather than their usual ploy of punt and pray.


Success of local EDGE Initiative noted at Summer of Algae Tour

By Guest Author Jason Anderson, Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego

Earlier this week, I participated in the kick-off of the Algae Biomass Organization’s Summer of Algae Tour at UC San Diego. This event was co-hosted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB).  The Summer of Algae Tour aims to educate policy makers about the algae biomass industry and its vast potential to continue creating jobs, domestic fuels, feedstock and other vital products.  The kick-off featured CleanTECH San Diego members Synthetic Genomics, General Atomics, Cellana and Sapphire Energy. Their pioneering work, along with the applied research within our local universities and institutions, serves as a stunning reminder of the global leadership provided by our region’s biofuels industry.  As Dr. Greg Mitchell of Scripps Institution of Oceanography explained to the audience, we are truly a “cluster of excellence.”  More information on ABO’s Summer of Algae Tour can be found here

My remarks at the event highlighted the EDGE Initiative and its successful conclusion.  As you know, more than two years ago CleanTECH San Diego and a number of key partner organizations, received a $4 million grant from the State of California to create curricula and workforce training programs designed to support our region’s biofuels and industrial biotech industry.  I am pleased to report that our work is complete.  Through a close collaboration, we have designed programs that not only support the biofuels and industrial biotech industry today, but will continue to evolve to meet industry needs as it matures.  To date, we have trained more than 300 workers and over one-third of those trained are now employed in the industry.  Just as the region’s research institutions and private sector companies continue to gain momentum and investment for their advances, EDGE’s cutting edge curricula and training programs are being considered for adoption by institutions all over the world.

The success of this program is due to a large number of people and organizations.  I would especially like to think Victoria Bradshaw, former Secretary, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, for her leadership and support, Steve Mayfield and his team at SD-CAB and UC San Diego for their hard work and dedication in creating EDGE’s curricula and training programs, and Kristie Grover and the BIOCOM Institute for their work on behalf of the students.  I would also like to thank the Industry Advisory Council, made up of private sector companies (including those mentioned above), which were a critical component to this initiative, as they helped shape the final product.

The EDGE Initiative proves once again that San Diego’s spirit of collaboration is real and it works.  By forming partnerships with public and private stakeholders, we can continue to address the needs of our rapidly growing cleantech sector.  

Click EDGE Program Overview for an overview of the EDGE Initiative, and its impressive results.  I hope you take the time to read it.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.

Jason Anderson is Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego.  He can be reached at:


San Diego companies to play major role in the “Summer of Algae II”

On Monday, August 20, the first of a series of events featuring algae will kick off as part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the promise of the algae industry to create jobs, domestic fuels, and other food and feed products.  Through open-house style events, local and national officials will experience the research, products and jobs being created by some of the algae industry’s leading companies and research institutions.

The “Summer of Algae II” is sponsored by the Algae Biomass Organization, the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, and implemented by its member companies, with events primarily taking place during the next two weeks but also stretching into early Fall.  The campaign’s name is a nod to the original Summer of Algae, coined by Biofuels Digest editor Jim Lane to characterize the developments and momentum in the summer of 2009.

Companies and organizations participating in the events represent the broad geographic and technological variety of algae companies, including: Algaedyne (Minnesota); Algenol (Florida); Arizona State University (Arizona); BioProcess Algae, LLC (Iowa); Boeing Commercial Airplanes (Washington); Cellana (Hawaii); The Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (Colorado); Duke Energy (Kentucky); FedEx (Tennessee); General Atomics (California); Matrix Genetics, LLC (Washington); Phycal (Ohio); The San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology at UC San Diego (California); Sapphire Energy (California); Solix BioSystems, Inc. (Colorado); St. Cloud State University (Minnesota); and Synthetic Genomics (California).

 “The Summer of Algae II will demonstrate the truly national promise of algae-based technologies to create jobs, develop a domestic fuel industry and manufacture a variety of other goods and products,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization.  ”It’s important for policymakers at all levels to understand the huge potential of this industry to contribute to economic development, energy independence and national security.”

Currently, more than 200 companies across the U.S. are developing algae-based technologies to produce domestic, cost-competitive and sustainable products within multi-billion dollar industries such as fuels, animal feed, Omega-3 oils, cosmetics and other products.  Continued instability in the Middle East along with heat waves and droughts in the U.S. Midwest serve as an important reminder of the need to continually diversify sources of fuel and food.

Campaign events range from small briefings with local officials to larger tours of laboratories and commercial facilities that include panel discussions among several regional algae companies and research groups to announcements about new technologies.  Each event will focus on the unique local impact the industry is having on jobs, and how algae can be used to produce domestic fuels and products that enhance American energy security in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

A full list of events can be found on the Algae Biomass Organization’s Blog:  Interested parties can follow the campaign on twitter @algaeindustry, #summerofalgae and on the Algae Biomass Organization facebook page.

In addition to education and outreach efforts with policymakers, ABO produces and hosts the industry’s premier annual global conference, the Algae Biomass Summit, which this year will be held in Denver, CO, September 24-27 at which more than 800 algae industry leaders are expected to convene.  Earlier this year, ABO launched, the first website designed to showcase algae’s potential to audiences ranging from those just learning about algae to seasoned algae enthusiasts, media and entrepreneurs.


Scripps Institution Of Oceanography partners with SoCalGas to Explore System Using Algae To Capture Carbon Dioxide From Natural Gas Equipment And Power Plants

Algae LabSouthern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego (Scripps) today announced an agreement focusing on the design of an innovative system in which algae consume carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from natural gas combustion and cost-effectively convert it into valuable byproducts such as biomethane, biodiesel and animal feed.

For several years, researchers at Scripps, a member organization of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a number of commercial companies around San Diego and elsewhere, have been studying how algae can most efficiently be developed into a clean, renewable biofuel to one day replace non-renewable fossil fuels. Taking this research a step further, Scripps’ researchers hope to leverage algae’s natural ability to absorb CO2 in the environment and convert it into oil rich biomass or biomethane or refined into fossil fuel replacements. After extracting the oils for biodiesel, the remaining biomass can be sold as a safe, protein-rich animal feed.

The new collaboration between Scripps and SoCalGas includes an investigative research and systems engineering study to explore how algae production systems currently in development could most effectively capture industrial CO2 emissions. Targeted CO2 sources include: natural gas power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes such as enhanced oil recovery.

“We are very excited to enter into this collaboration with Southern California Gas Company and bring our world-class scientific and engineering analysis capabilities to bear in assessing state-of-the-art algal culture systems for CO2 capture from point sources,” said Dominick Mendola, a senior development engineer in the laboratory of Greg Mitchell, a Scripps biologist who has explored marine algae for their potential as a new biofuel source. “If the Phase I analysis proves such systems can be safe and

Gregory Mitchell UCSD

economical, we then hope to enter into a Phase II agreement to help SoCalGas build and operate a module of a commercially scaled system, and test its capabilities at a site to be selected within Southern California.”

“We are strongly committed to supporting the development of zero and near-zero- emission natural gas technologies. Recovering CO2 from combustion and turning it into commodities such as biomethane, biodiesel or a high-quality animal feedstock is great for the environment while creating valuable products,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. “None of this is easy, but working with world-class scientific organizations like Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego greatly improves our chances of success.”


Click here for Eric Wolff’s article in the North County Times.



Brookings Institute releases Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.

Last Wednesday the Brookings Institute released Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence. The 65 page report exams the current state of the highly politicized clean energy technology sector.  Their premise is, “In the absence of significant and timely energy policy reform, the recent boom in US clean tech sectors could falter.” 

Part 1 of the report analyzes the past and future of Federal clean tech funding followed by a section which breaks out the market impacts (solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, EVs and storage).  In Part 3 the authors present their recommended focus on “policy reform to both sustain market opportunities for advanced energy technologies and implement smart new policies that more effectively shepherd public resources and support innovative entrepreneurs and firms.”  They clearly state the wisdom of supporting innovation over massaging the market.  “Simple deployment subsidies or policies to create demand, for example, still allow foreign competitors to undercut domestic manufacturers and seize larger and larger market shares, as Chinese solar PV companies have proven in the last three years.  Only steady innovation can keep US firms at the leading edge of clean tech sectors, and a supportive policy regime will be essential.”

Although San Diego is not mentioned by name, on page 11 the report gives a strong shout out for innovation clusters.  “Likewise, the nation needs to develop more potent, catalytic ways to leverage and enhance regional clean tech industry clusters. Such industry clustering has been shown to accelerate growth by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation.  Policy makers should increase investment in competitive grants to support smart regional cluster initiatives, designed not in Washington but on the ground close to the “bottom up” innovation that has broken out in numerous states and metropolitan areas.”

Long considered an innovation cluster Mecca, San Diego’s response is the San Diego iHub, which will build upon the region’s existing innovation infrastructure and strong culture of collaboration to create four convergence clusters: mobile health, biofuels, biomimicry, solar energy and energy storage.  Click here for the regional cleantech cluster database tracked by CleanTECH San Diego.

On April 25th one of the authors of the report, Mark Muro, will participate in a live web chat with moderator Vivyan Tran of POLITICO.  Click here to join in.

My only fault with the report is their narrow use of clean tech to mean clean energy technology.  In most common usage clean tech is more broadly defined to also include several non-energy technologies.  For example a non-energy technology which reduces the emission of Green House Gases (GHG) is clean tech for most of us as is the lengthy tech menu associated with clean air and water, recycling and a whole host of sustainable processes.

Click here to access Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.


GUEST AUTHOR: The Alternative Energy Matrix

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

Breathe, Neo. I’ve been running a marathon lately to cover all the major players that may provide viable alternatives to fossil fuels this century. Even though I have not exhausted all possibilities, or covered each topic exhaustively, I am exhausted. So in this post, I will provide a recap of all the schemes discussed thus far, in matrix form. Then Do the Math will shift its focus to more of the “what next” part of the message.

The primary “mission” of late has been to sort possible future energy resources into boxes labeled “abundant,” “potent” (able to support something like a quarter of our present demand if fully developed), and “niche,” which is a polite way to say puny. In the process, I have clarified in my mind that a significant contributor to my concerns about future energy scarcity is not the simple quantitative scorecard. After all, if it were that easy, we’d be rocking along with a collective consensus about our path forward. Some comments have asked: “If we forget about trying to meet our total demand with one source, could we meet our demand if we add them all up?” Absolutely. In fact, the abundant sources technically need no other complement. So on the abundance score alone, we’re done at solar, for instance. But it’s not that simple, unfortunately. While the quantitative abundance of a resource is key, many other practical concerns enter the fray when trying to anticipate long-term prospects and challenges—usually making up the bulk of the words in prior posts.

For example, it does not much matter that Titan has enormous pools of methane unprotected by any army (that we know of!). The gigantic scale of this resource makes our Earthly fossil fuel allocation a mere speck. But so what? Practical considerations mean we will never grab this energy store. Likewise, some of our terrestrial sources of energy are super-abundant, but just a pain in the butt to access or put to practical use.

In this post, we will summarize the ins and outs of the various prospects. Interpretation will come later. For now, let’s just wrap it all up together.

Continue reading →


Future of algae as a biofuel on trial in San Diego

Algae LabYesterday was a good news day for the rapidly growing algae biofuel industry in San Diego.  Local TV station KPBS produced a comprehensive video segment, 2012 Could Determine Future Of Algae As Fuel.  Click here for the video.  

La Jolla-based Sapphire Energy announced a breakthrough via a white paper, “An exogenous chloroplast genome for complex sequence manipulation in algae.”  

“With this breakthrough, Sapphire Energy has shown that it is possible to make algae–the world’s most efficient photosynthetic organism–even more efficient,” said Jason Pyle, Sapphire Energy founder and CEO.  “This work represents the first steps toward a novel approach for creating genetic diversity in any or all regions of a chloroplast genome, and may have applications in other plants.”  

Click here for the full report.   

Grants for up to $7,000 are available for biofuels training for 55 students.  Classes will be held at UCSD Extension and Mira Costa College starting in March 2012.  Details here.


Job training grants to give workers “EDGE” in biofuels industry

If algae is to be the solution for America’s pain at the gas pump, trained workers are needed to make that a reality.  Applications are now available for continuing education grants at the University of California San Diego to retrain workers as general science technicians in the rapidly expanding biofuels industry in the San Diego and Imperial County region.

Approximately 55 students will begin classes in March of 2012, with each student receiving the equivalent of a $7,000 grant from the State of California. Prospective students from across California interested in applying for next year’s EDGE program and biofuels and industrial biotechnology companies interested in hiring interns from the program should contact Karen Overklift at the BIOCOM Institute (858) 455-0300, extension 104 or or go to

Algae, the substance known to many as “pond scum,” may one day be the fuel that powers U.S. automobiles.

“That’s what petroleum is – it’s ancient algae,” said Dr. Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology at UC San Diego and director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB). “Algae already makes oil that looks like crude oil. The oil we extract from algae goes directly into a refinery and gets converted into diesel or gasoline.”

The students, who will attend classes at UC San Diego Extension and Mira Costa College, are the second cohort of students in a program funded by a two-year, $4-million grant from California’s Department of Labor under the Green Innovation Challenge.

“Nationwide there is a need for skilled workers to participate in the development and commercialization of new technologies, as we can see in the field of alternative energies,” said Hugo Villar, director of science and technology at UC San Diego Extension. “The university has been a leader in helping adult learners acquire new knowledge and skills that allow them to transition out of stagnant areas of the job market and participate into more vibrant areas as we are doing now with biofuels.”

“This program is not only training workers for new jobs in the local economy, it will eventually help our nation become less dependent on foreign oil,” said Mayfield, “The bioenergy sector will eventually be creating millions of jobs nationwide. Our biggest challenge will be to keep those jobs in California.”

The grant involves the work of a number of local partners, which include UC San Diego, San Diego State University, Mira Costa College EDGE program, SD-CAB, CleanTECH San Diego, BIOCOM Institute, BIOCOM, San Diego Workforce Partnership and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

“With this training, these students are prepared to support the region’s growing biofuels companies and help San Diego continue to be a leader in the biofuels sector,” said Jason Anderson, vice president of CleanTECH San Diego, a non-profit organization that is helping to accelerate San Diego as a world leader in the clean technology economy.

San Diego is widely recognized as one of the world’s leaders in biofuels research and development. A recent analysis, conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), found that for the algal biofuels sector alone, the industry provides the region with 410 direct jobs and $56 million in direct economic activity and $108 million in total economic activity annually.

“It’s critical that we build the research and development infrastructure for the biofuels industry here,” said Mayfield. “Right now, we have a head start on the rest of the world and we can’t afford to lose that.”

Thanks to the $4-million EDGE grant, San Diego has also become a national leader in training biofuels technicians. Mayfield said feedback from the program’s graduates, faculty and local biofuels companies will lead to a redesign of the curriculum for the next class of science biofuels technicians, which will run from March through August of 2012. Once the program is perfected, an online, web-based curriculum will be made available to any California university or college, and through enrollment in UC San Diego Extension to anyone around the world who wants to gain basic science training to enter the biofuels industry.


Sapphire Energy receives USDA loan guarantee for algae biofuel facility

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA has issued a loan guarantee that will allow biofuels firm Sapphire Energy to construct a facility in New Mexico to produce “green crude” oil from algae which can be refined into transportation fuel.  The project is intended to advance American efforts to provide renewable commercial-scale biofuels, increasing energy security and reducing dependence on foreign oil.  The project is expected to create 60 jobs in the community of Columbus, NM.

“The Obama Administration is committed to providing support for renewable energy production which will safeguard national security and create jobs in rural America,” said Vilsack. “This project represents another step in the effort to assist the nation’s advanced biofuel industry produce energy in commercial quantities from sustainable rural resources.”

La Jolla-based Sapphire Energy intends to design, build and operate a $135 million integrated algal biorefinery (IABR) in Columbus, N.M., for the production of advanced biofuel that is a “drop-in” replacement for petroleum derived diesel and jet fuel.  The IABR will be capable of producing 100 barrels of refined algal oil per day, equivalent to at least one million gallons per year.  The oil will be shipped to the United States Gulf Coast to be refined by Sapphire’s refinery partner, Dynamic Fuels, located in Geismar, LA.

The funding is provided through USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program. On December 3, 2009, USDA issued a conditional commitment for an 80 percent guarantee on a $54.5 million loan.  The loan closing and issuance of the Loan Note Guarantee for this project took place on October 21, 2011.

Today’s announcement is in concert with the objectives of the Renewable Fuel Standard, known as RFS2, which reaffirmed the goal of producing, by 2022, 36 billion gallons of biofuels to include 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels.

Producing fuel from algae is seen as one way to provide for domestically produced fuel for commercial and military use.  USDA is partnering with the Department of the Navy as it embraces a biofuel future.  USDA has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help the commercial airline utilize biofuels as jet fuel.  Under the MOU, the USDA and FAA are working together with the airline industry to develop appropriate feed stocks that can be most efficiently processed into jet fuel.  Doing so will decrease the industry’s current dependence on foreign oil and help stabilize fuel costs in the long run.

Sapphire Energy Video



E2 EcoSalon: Energy Security and the Impact on the Economy

Carl Nettleton, Lee Stein, Elizabeth Dreicer McPhail, Bryce Rhodes

The E2 San Diego Chapter held an EcoSalon on Thursday, October 20, titled, “Energy Security and the Impact on the Economy.”  The event was held at Chapter Co-Director Lee Stein’s home and featured three panelists: Leendert “Len” Hering Sr. RADM, USN (ret.); Stephen Mayfield, UC San Diego Professor of Biology and Director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology; and Marney Cox, Chief Economist for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). E2 San Diego Chapter Co-Director Carl Nettleton moderated the session. 

San Diego is a hub for both the military and alternative fuels development and the panelists discussed the national and local imperatives driving the military’s emphasis on reducing or eliminating fossil fuel use.  According to Chapter Co-Director Elizabeth Dreicer McPhail, the event met the goal of bringing together a small but quality group of business and community leaders to provide visibility for E2 while researching locally important issues and appealing to potential new members.

In August E2 published a 23 page report, Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2011.  Click here for your copy.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity.  E2 has seven chapters: Northern California, New England, New York, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Los Angeles, and San Diego.


Two San Diego companies look to sorghum as a non-food resource

(Updated 11/5/11 with ChloroFill video interview at end of post.)

Yesterday Synthetic Genomics announced the spin-off of Agradis, an agricultural biotech charged with commercializing its advances in plant breeding and genomics.  (See Bruce Bigelow’s Xconomy Coverage) With Series A funding of $20 million, Agradis’ initial focus will be castor, sorghum and other cash crops. 

Sorghum presents Agradis opportunities to build upon a compelling set of plant attributes to create more advanced varieties for an expanded menu of uses including biofuels.  The emphasis is on solutions which can be grown on land unsuitable for food crops. 

San Diego-based ChloroFill is also on the sorghum band-wagon.  Last week they announced two new sorghum-based renewable building material products.

ChlorOSB and ChlorOSB(p) are fiberboards made with sorghum stalks- an agricultural waste product- and a formaldehyde-free binder.  Sorghum stalks have long been used for building materials. Their high cellulose content makes stalks light while remaining pliable and strong.  Sorghum grows in warmer climate and tropical regions of the world. It is a hyper-renewable resource that grows over six-feet high in as little as 110 days. Sorghum is used for food, fodder, alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Stalks have been used throughout the ages for thatch, fences, baskets, brushes, paper and brooms. The supply, however, exceeds demand and the remaining stalks are often considered agricultural waste and disposed of by burning in fields. The environmental impact results in tons of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the atmosphere every year.

ChloroFill boards can be used in many of the same nonstructural applications as bamboo, fiberboards, particle boards, plywood and oriented strand boards (OSB). Designer applications include:

Counter tops
Architectural Elements
Wall and Ceiling Coverings

“We are excited to launch our new superior treeless wood products, and we hope that our products become the carcinogen-free choice in green building materials for the interior design, building and furniture industries,” stated Michael Hurst, CEO of ChloroFill.

Click for video interview of Michael Hurst, ChloroFill CEO at Clean Tech Expo



California dominates ranking of top cleantech companies worldwide

Cleantech companies in San Diego continue to receive global recognition as innovators.  On Wednesday Cleantech Group LLC (not to be confused with CleanTECH San Diego) announced their 2011 Global Cleantech 100.  From our region the honorees were Genomatica, On-Ramp Wireless and Synthetic Genomics.  There are 58 U.S. companies on the list with California way in front with an impressive 36.  In all, 16 countries were represented.

The rigorous selection process began with a long list of 4,274 nominated companies.  The expert panel was made up of 70 individuals drawn principally from leading cleantech investors from around the world. 

The leading cleantech sub-sector was Energy Efficiency with 19 companies.  This was followed by Solar (14), Water & Wastewater (12), Energy Storage (10) and Biofuels & Biomaterials (9). 

Click here to read the 32 page report. 


UC San Diego is a campus-wide living laboratory for sustainable energy

Last week I attended Procopio’s Environmental Breakfast Club held on the UC San Diego campus.  Under John Lormon’s direction the speakers began with some comments about the differences between smartgrid and microgridByron Washom, Director of Strategic Energy Initiatives, UC San Diego gave an update on the status of the sophisticated microgrid being built on the ever-expanding seaside campus.  Much has been accomplished with more to come.  The UC San Diego system demonstrates the advantages of an intelligent energy system designed for increased efficiency, security and sustainability.  Environmental sustainability at UC San Diego is a real-world learning experience serving the dual purposes of advancing the base of knowledge and saving the university millions of dollars in operating expenses. 

About the UCSD microgrid Forbes magazine said, “First light for what the new smart grid architecture will look like is already visible”.  It is an integral part of a much larger campus community effort.  Click to learn about Sustainability 2.0, A Living Laboratory.  Click here for Byron Washom’s presentation, Local Impact, National Influence, Global Reach

My favorite educational experience has always been show and tell.  We were treated to a tour of the campus for a first-hand look at the key components of the evolving energy system.  On the very day we were there the largest full cell on any college campus was being activated for the first time.  Manufactured by FuelCell Energy, Inc., the 2.8-megawatt fuel cell will provide about 8% of UC San Diego’s total energy needs.  In conjunction with the City of San Diego and Encinitas-based BioFuels Energy, the renewable-energy project will turn waste methane gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant directly into electricity without combustion.

Directly opposite the site of the huge fuel cell are two impressively large solar arrays designed and fabricated by Soitec and installed on the campus for evaluation.  The first solar installation was a progressive step which led to San Diego Gas & Electric signing contracts with Soitec for 125 megawatts of solar power.  The second is the fifth generation of Soitec’s concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system which will generate about five times more electricity with a fractionally larger footprint. 

The new system consists of 12 CPV modules, each generating more than 2 kW of peak power.  For this new product, Soitec has reconfigured its Concentrix modules to reduce the number of parts per CPV system, making installation in the field simpler and faster.  By leveraging the field-proven CPV cells, high concentration ratio and silicone-on-glass Fresnel lens construction used in previous generations of Concentrix products, the new system delivers the same high reliability and life expectancy.

Soitec’s two-axis-tracking CPV systems are well suited for installation sites with high direct solar radiation.  The systems produce a high, constant power output curve throughout the day and are able to match peak-load demands.

Soitec has begun shipping demonstration units to project sites.  Plans call for volume production to ramp in the first quarter of 2012 at the company’s manufacturing facility in Freiburg, Germany, and later at Soitec’s planned new factory in San Diego.

The last photo is of the partially completed, fifth generation Soitec CPV system on the UC San Diego campus as of October 12, 2011.



Jet biofuel innovation to ignite the biofuels sector

The road to affordable alternative fuel for your car may be at 36,000 feet.  Aviation fuel from non-petroleum feed-stocks will be the first big win for alternative transportation fuel.  This success will bring a wealth of tech experience, concept proofs and scale which will jump start the introduction of new fuels for ground and water transportation.  Here are the five top reasons why jet fuel will be biofuels’ first big win.

Motivated buyers with concentrated demand

Of the more than ¾ billion vehicles on this planet the vast majority are owned by individuals or small businesses.  Most share my annoyance with the ever elevating price at the pump, but my annual expenditure for fuel is a small portion of my total budget.  In contrast, jet fuel is consumed by a limited number of commercial carriers and militaries.  Their fuel costs are a significant portion of their operating budgets. 

In the last decade over 25 airlines have ceased operation strangled by an ever tightening fuel hose.  For the survivors the risk of fuel price increase is greater than the opportunity to increase revenue.  Passenger-carrying flights with jet biofuel from a variety of non-petroleum feed-stocks have been flown by Continental, Quantas, United, Iberia, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Northwest, KLM, Japan Air Lines and a host of others.  American Airlines signed with 14 other carriers to purchase alternative fuels.  This week Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic announced the development of a world-first low carbon aviation fuel with just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.  The technology from New Zealand-based LanzaTech represents a breakthrough in aviation fuel technology that will see waste gases from industrial steel production being captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology for use as a jet fuel. The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.  Boeing is supporting the effort.  A $3.5 million Series A funding was led by billionaire Vinod Khosla.  In June an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was made to LanzaTech to perform research focusing on novel, low cost routes for the production of jet fuel (JP-8) from carbon monoxide (CO) rich sources.   Click here for Branson’s video presentation.  And here for the release

Concentrated distribution infrastructure 

Ground transportation is characterized by over 300,000 filing stations world-wide.  There are only 1700 airports (excluding military) of which about half are international.  Access to just 500 of the top airports represents a significant portion of jet fuel consumption. 

No competing innovations for foreseeable future

Boeing does not have an electric plane on the drawing board.  There is no Airbus Leaf or Volt.  No CNG, nuclear, solar or long-life batteries.  Biofuels are the drop-in alternatives to the dead dinosaur derivative. 

The scale is doable and significant

Boeing says the world’s airlines burn 60 billion gallons of petroleum based jet fuels each year.  If alternative fuels were to capture 15% or 20% of this market the industry would achieve a scale which would spill over onto other fuel markets. 

An effective military trumps a dysfunctional government

Twenty years ago it would have been difficult to foresee a future in which treehuggers would be obstructionists to alternative energy projects and career militarists would be the driving force for prioritizing our society’s clean energy goals.  A Congress which cannot pass a budget and an administration which cannot articulate a national energy policy are impotent to nurture innovation.  Fortunately the military is responsive and undeterred by the dearth of leadership from our elected officials.

The U.S. military consumes more energy than any other consumer in our country.  About 84% goes for aviation fuel.   Dollars wasted on rising fuel costs are at the expense of other critical needs.  The threat of supply interruptions increases with our growing dependence on oil shipped from half a world away.  The military’s response is clear and unequivocal.  Clean energy is a matter of national security.  All services branches are moving forward on plans with specific goals and time targets.  Click here to read the commitment of four retired top ranking officers to our military’s clean energy objectives. 

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has directed the Navy and Marine Corps to generate half of their energy needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, by 2020.  San Diego’s rapidly growing cluster of biofuel companies and research institutions is an integral part of the response to the opportunity.  General Atomics and SAIC have been awarded contracts by DARPA to develop the technical capability and affordable production of military JP-8 surrogate fuel from algae feed-stocks.  Sapphire Energy, Synthetic Genomics, S.G. Biofuels and other San Diego-based biofuels companies are all a part of this important transformation of our energy driven economy. 

Biofuels Digest provides additional insight on the role of aviation biofuels, Quick Win: aviation biofuels offers breakout for clean energy.

To learn more about the local burgeoning biofuels cluster go to the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB).  SD-CAB along with UCSD, SDSU, CleanTECH San Diego, and BioCOM collaborated to launch Educating and Developing Workers for the Green Economy (EDGE) focused on educating a next-generation workforce in green technology.




Shine the spotlight on nine San Diego cleantech companies

Since 1987, the CONNECT Most Innovative New Product (MIP) Awards have been San Diego’s “Oscars” for local technology innovation.  The 2011 finalists in the Clean Technology category include Genomatica for Process for High-Volume Chemicals from Renewable Feedstocks, Noble Environmental Technologies Corporation for ECOR and Wildcat Discovery Technologies for 5V Cathode (CM1) and Electrolyte (EM1).  Winners will be announced on Friday, December 9th before an audience of more than 800 of San Diego’s top executives, entrepreneurs, VCs and academics.  Click here to register for the MIP exhibition and awards luncheon. 

San Diego’s 18th Annual TechAmerica High Tech Awards finalists in the Clean Technology category include EcoATM, Hadronex, Juice Technologies and Sapphire EnergyClick here to register for the October 28th event. 

The regional cleantech cluster in San Diego continues to receive national recognition.  On Wednesday the Global Cleantech Cluster Association announced the semifinalists for the 2011 Later Stage Award competition.  This best-of-the-best recognition includes four San Diego cleantech companies, Genomatica, PowerGenix, Achates Power and EcoATM.  In another forum Sapphire Energy was honored as a “Game Changer of the Year 2011” in Clean Technology by Grow-California for their impact on California’s green industry.


San Diego-based SG Biofuels inks deal for massive jatropha 2.0 deployment in India

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Bharat Renewable Energy Ltd (BREL), a joint-venture of Bharat Petroleum, India’s second largest petroleum company, has initiated a program with SG Biofuels (SGB) to develop and deploy elite hybrids of Jatropha for the production of biodiesel in India.

The program’s first phase includes a crop development effort to produce high performing hybrid varieties of Jatropha adapted to unique growing conditions across the country.  Additional phases include the deployment of more than 86,000 acres of Jatropha using SGB’s JMax™ hybrid seeds.

“With the genetic diversity of their Jatropha hybrid material combined with ability to produce large volumes of hybrid seed, SG Biofuels is an ideal partner to work with to successfully develop, validate and scale Jatropha as the primary source for biodiesel in India,” said Mr. M.V. Radhakrishnan, chief executive officer of Bharat Renewable Energy Ltd.

SGB will draw from the advancements of its global JMax™ crop development centers where the company is optimizing elite hybrid varieties of Jatropha through a combination of molecular breeding and biotechnology.  The centers feature (more…)


La Jolla is at the center of the global algae Petri dish

I am reading Mark Stevenson’s book, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.  He quotes Ray Kurzweil, “Our intuition is linear and I believe it’s hardwired into our brains.”  This linear bias bangs hard against the “Law of Accelerating Returns”.  Technological innovation feeds upon itself.  Innovative growth is not 1+1+1+1, but rather 1+2+4+8.  Although the ubiquitous iPhone is a reminder of the how explosive innovation can be, we look to the future dreading that positive change will be too little, too late.  Our linear bias leads to judgments influenced by static inputs rather than future values which will be determined by innovation replicating exponentially.  The commercialization of algae biofuels is an important example.

The algae business is basically farming.  The output of the algae agricultural system will be used to produce “drop-in” biofuels as well as animal feed and a myriad of other products.  If all technological innovation were frozen at this moment, the algae biofuel business would most likely not be commercially viable.  However, just like corn and pigs, improvements are being made over time. 

In my lifetime the yield per acre of corn has tripled due to improved genetics and production technology.  What took years and decades to happen with grains and livestock is happening over weeks and months with algae.  The algae industry is not only benefiting from the explosive technological innovation of the past decade, but also from the huge universe of algae being screened to identify commercially viable strains.

There are over 800 breeds of cattle.  The gestation period for cattle is about the same as humans.  Heifers can be bred at about 12 to 14 months.  Now imagine a breeding program with cattle drawn from over 5,000,000 different species which can produce a new generation every 30 days.  With existing technology, genome engineering and capital, the accelerating refinement of super strains is rapidly advancing the algae industry.  The algae of the very near future will be as dramatically improved as the pig of 2011 compared to his scrawny ancestor of the 1950s. 

La Jolla is at the center of the global algae Petri dish.  Greg Mitchell, director of the Photobiology Group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has a global reputation as an algae pioneer.  The San Diego Union Tribune wrote about his exciting life, “Algae visionary imagines a future that’s green — literally”.   Click here to read.

The two largest equity fundings for algae biofuel development were done in the La Jolla zip code (Synthetic Genomics and Sapphire Energy).  On Wednesday I attended a press conference for California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who was named chair of a new committee that will focus on creating a climate for jobs.  Sapphire Energy was selected as the site for the event to showcase the importance of innovation for job creation.  After the remarks we toured Sapphire’s labs.  Their time line is clearly stated.  “We expect to be at demonstration scale in three years and at commercial scale by 2018.”  Sapphire Energy has received $54.5 million in loan guarantees from the USDA Biorefinery Assistance Program to build a plant to turn algal oil into jet fuel.

The challenge for most disruptive technologies is finding a deep-pockets customer that is sufficiently convinced to make a meaningful buying commitment.  The algae biofuels business has that in the U.S. military.  The military’s motivation is both financial and strategic.  They know that their greatest vulnerability is dependence on imported oil.  Their bill for fuel and electricity last year was $20 billion. The prospect of growing fuel in Hawaii and Southern California versus shipping oil half way around the world has a strong appeal.  Of greatest importance to the algae biofuel industry is a military making their decisions based on future economic and strategic plans unimpeded by the wrong-headed influence of politicians. 

The military’s impact on accelerating the growth of the algae biofuels industry will be enhanced if legislation is passed allowing the Pentagon to sign long-term contracts for up to fifteen years as opposed to the current five-year limit.  A long-term commitment from a highly-rated buyer makes deal financing substantially more doable.  Members of the aviation industry testified at a Senate Aviation operations, safety and security subcommittee hearing requesting legislation enabling the Defense Department to enter into long-term contracts for fuels.

To learn more about the local burgeoning biofuels cluster go to the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB).  Greg Mitchell was one of the founders.  SD-CAB along with UCSD, SDSU, CleanTECH San Diego, and BioCOM collaborated to launch Educating and Developing Workers for the Green Economy (EDGE) focused on educating a next-generation workforce in green technology.


“Biodiesel and Flex Fuel for Fleets – Just the Facts” Workshop

On Thursday, August 11th, award-winning author and filmmaker Josh Tickell will join leading biofuels producers and retailers at “Biodiesel and Flex Fuel for Fleets – Just the Facts” – an interactive workshop for regional businesses to address common misconceptions about domestic biofuels.  During the workshop, hosted by Propel Fuels, New Leaf Biodiesel, CleanTECH San Diego, the San Diego Regional Clean Fuel Coalition, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, and Pearson Fuels, Tickell and other speakers will discuss the performance benefits, cost advantages, incentives and availability of renewable fuels in Southern California with fleet managers, fuel distributors and other decision makers.   


Josh Tickell, Award-Winning Filmmaker of FUEL and FREEDOM
Jake Millan, Fleet Sales Manager, Propel Fuels

Brendan Reed, Environmental Resource Manager, City of Chula Vista
Lisa McGhee, San Diego Airport Parking


A free, interactive workshop for fleet managers, fuel distributors and other decision makers interested in learning about the performance benefits, cost advantages, incentives and availability of renewable fuels in Southern California.


Thursday, August 11th, 2011,
Media Availability: 3:00 p.m.
Workshop: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Pearson Fuels
4067 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92105



San Diego’s General Atomics and Genomatica receive DOE funds for development of drop-In biofuels and bioproducts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to cut foreign oil imports, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced up to $36 million to fund six small-scale projects in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, that will advance the technology improvements and process integration needed to produce drop-in advanced biofuels and other valuable bio-based chemicals. The projects aim to improve the economics and efficiency of biological and chemical processes that convert non-food biomass feedstocks into replacements for petroleum-based feedstocks, products, and fuels. These selections further the Obama Administration’s strategy for accelerating research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.

“Projects such as these are helping us to diversify our energy portfolio and decrease our dependence on foreign oil,” said Secretary Chu.  “Together with our partners, the Department is working hard to expand the clean energy economy, creating jobs in America and providing sustainable replacements for the fuels and products now provided primarily by petroleum.”  

The funding announced today will help diversify DOE’s Biomass Program portfolio to include a breadth of fuels and chemicals beyond cellulosic ethanol and ensure that the Department’s research and development on biofuels remains integrated and strategic.

The following projects were selected:

General Atomics (up to $2.0 million, San Diego, California): The proposed project aims to reduce energy, capital, and operational cost for algal fermentation processes. This will increase production of algal oils, which can be further refined into advanced biofuels.

Genomatica, Inc. (up to $5.0 million, San Diego, California): This project will deliver an engineered organism and optimized fermentation process to enable the conversion of cellulosic sugars to the valuable industrial chemical, 1,4-butanediol (BDO). Such technology will enhance the commercial profitability of integrated biorefineries by enabling co-production of high-volume fuels and the higher-margin commodity chemical, BDO.  (more…)