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Sapphire and ISB Partner on Commercial Algae Production

November 1, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Sapphire Energy and Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), pioneers of the cross-disciplinary and integrative systems approach to research, have announced a strategic partnership to further the scientific research and development of algae biofuels. Through this partnership, the companies will focus on applying systems biology solutions to algae with the goal of significantly increasing oil yield and improving resistance to crop predators and environmental factors in order to further the advancement of commercialized algae biofuel production.

“Sapphire is dealing with one of the most complicated problems known to humans: how to make fuel from a renewable resource,” said Nitin Baliga, director of Integrative Biology at ISB. “Together, we have complementary expertise that will allow us to understand, reverse engineer and rationally alter the gene networks for fuel production in algae.”

“Sapphire Energy has developed the premier biotechnology platform for producing and harvesting algae, which we see as having incredible biological potential,” said Alex Aravanis, chief science officer (CSO) at Sapphire Energy. “By working with ISB to apply their systems biology approach, we’re able to more rapidly identify genes and regulatory pathways that can increase yield and move us toward our goal of making Green Crude a market-viable, crude oil alternative.”

“We hope to reverse engineer the gene networks in algae and create strategies that will significantly improve the yield of green oil and crop protection—and reduce significantly the time to market,” added Leroy Hood, ISB president.

Sapphire Energy recently began operating the first phase of its 300-acre commercial demonstration Green Crude Farm, also known as an Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery, in Columbus, New Mexico, in partnership with the US Department of Energy. The Green Crude Farm is expected to produce approximately 100 barrels of Green Crude per day, and be completed the end of 2014.

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