[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]


Algae Perspectives by Mary Rosenthal

A Look Back…a Look Forward

December 28, 2011
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Ed. Note: We welcome the Algal Biomass Organization’s Executive Director Mary Rosenthal as a new A.I.M. contributing editor!

As we head into a new year it’s always interesting—and enlightening—to reflect on the events of the past year and what they mean for the algae industry. Let’s take a look back.

Many of you will remember that 2011 began with a discouraging report that claimed algae biofuels could never play a role in US energy security. We at the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) easily refuted the research, but if we knew then what the next 12 months would prove about algae, we could have asked skeptics to just sit back and watch as new technologies emerged, markets opened, production increased, and support reached new heights.

The progress we saw for new markets is the kind that opens doors, like the decision this past summer of ASTM International—the world standards body—to finalize a specification for jet fuel. It was followed by the history-making first U.S. commercial flight to be powered by algae-based biofuel—United 1403—which flew on November 7 from Houston to Chicago.

The ease of using and distributing biofuels in existing aviation fuel infrastructure, coupled with the high fuel costs facing airlines makes many in that industry expect a rapid and wide-ranging adoption of biofuels. I expect that many such “firsts” of 2011 will rapidly become the norm in 2012.

“…many such “firsts” of 2011 will rapidly become the norm in 2012.”The military’s need for a strategic alternative to fossil fuels is opening doors as well. The Navy’s commitment to a “Great Green Fleet,” led to the purchase of more than 100,000 gallons of algae-based biofuel in 2011, as well as several tests of algae-derived fuels on different aircraft and boats. In the summer of 2012 we will see this fleet in action for the first time, and the Navy will once again usher in a new era of transportation.

Speaking of a new era, the number of facilities that broke ground or began operations in 2011 was hard to keep up with. We saw BioProcess Algae’s photobioreactors begin production in the plains of Iowa, and the groundbreaking at Sapphire’s enormous open pond facility in Columbus, New Mexico. Algenol Biofuels announced biorefinery construction in late December. Also put Solazyme, Aurora Algae, Honeywell’s UOP, Cellana, Phycal, Heliae, OpenAlgae, OriginOil, and General Atomics on the list of companies with impressive 2011 operations, expansions and achievements.

It makes sense for an industry moving forward in markets and production capabilities to see an increase in support from people outside the industry as well. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Renewable Fuel Parity Act of 2011, which would give our industry a chance to compete with almost any biofuel feedstock on a level playing field. This support was echoed by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at the Algae Biomass Summit in Minneapolis. As for federal agencies, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy proposed a $510 million investment in drop-in biofuels.

“An unpredictable Congress means we will have to be vigilant and aggressive.”But making parity, or the $510 million, a reality will be a challenge. An unpredictable Congress means we will have to be vigilant and aggressive. That is why I’m especially pleased by one of the late developments here at ABO for 2011. On December 19, we announced that the respected global law firm K&L Gates LLP will be helping ABO educate federal policy makers about the growing potential for algae biofuels and their role in U.S. energy production, national security and economic development.

In 2012 we will be working to make sure that these great strengths of our industry are well-known by those looking for ways to stimulate job growth, ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. economy and drive the development of a scalable, sustainable domestic fuel industry. We will be helping our members do the same. With more algae-derived products and fuels becoming available you can expect to hear a louder voice from an industry poised to shape many different markets.

One event that proved this fact for me was this past October in Minneapolis, when we hosted the largest Algae Summit ever, with attendees, speakers and exhibitors from 29 countries, 45 states and six Canadian provinces. More than 800 people engaged in sharing knowledge and conducting business transactions, 100 presentations were made and more than 120 posters were presented making it the most successful algae summit ever. Next year we will be in Denver, and I expect a big gathering there as well.

As 2011 draws to a close it is very clear we are laying a foundation for strong markets and production in our industry, and we are eager to keep moving forward in 2012 and beyond. Have a wonderful New Year!

Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director
Algal Biomass Organization

Go to HOME Page

Copyright ©2010-2011 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Visit the A.I.M. Archives

AIM interview ArchivesAlgae 101 ArchivesHot Products ArchivesInnovations ArchivesMoney ArchivesProcess ArchivesResearch ArchivesScale Up ArchivesThe Buzz Archives

FREE Algae News & Updates

Sign up to receive breaking A.I.M. updates!

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Tess Riley writes in TheGuardian.com about how spirulina may be able to combat malnutrition in developing countries. Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth, c...
Kevin Quon writes in Seeking Alpha about the financial plights and pivots of Solazyme, the algae industry’s most high profile recent IPO. In a year that started with a sh...
Caroline Scott-Thomas reports on Food Navigator about an online algae discussion on the social media site Reddit where Mars' chief agricultural officer Howard-Yana Shapir...
A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Biomass Energy Technologies Office (BETO) project, awarded to Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) in collaboration with M...
Montague, Prince Edward Island-based Solarvest has announced that it has used its algal-based production platform to express bioactive therapeutic proteins. The proof of ...
As one of the most water-poor countries in the world, Jordan’s current water resources are significantly below the global water scarcity line. Annual rainfall falls under...
Japan’s IHI Corporation has announced that they have succeeded in stably cultivating a modified high-output algal strain in a 1,500 square meter open pond in Kagoshima, K...
Joule has announced the issuance of a patent on the direct, continuous production of hydrocarbon fuels — extending its ability to target the highest-value molecules of th...
A new $1 million relationship between Michigan State University and ExxonMobil will expand research in the fundamental science to advance algae-based fuels. Dr. David Kra...
Students of algal research, including it's various applications and business models, have increasing opportunities to get quickly up to speed in many aspects of the rapid...
The Algae and Biofuels Laboratory at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is partnering with Lianhenghui Investment Company to construct a...
The GNT Group, a market leader in using algae as natural ingredients for color, has begun construction of an additional spirulina plant at its headquarters in Mierlo, the...