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Algae Perspectives by Mary Rosenthal

A Look Back at ABS

October 16, 2012

It’s been just two weeks since the conclusion of the 6th Annual Algae Biomass Summit. And what an event it was! More than 800 experts from around the world. More than 200 combined poster and oral presentations. Networking events. Pre-conference tours. It was great.

That said, I must admit that one of my favorite parts of the event was the last day, during which we presented the first ever Young Algae Researcher Awards to six of the brightest up-and-coming minds in our industry.

Together in the same room was the present—and future—of our industry. It couldn’t have been more exciting!

ABS 2012

An audience of nearly 800 got the annual algae update at the ABS in Denver, CO

This year’s summit featured industry accomplishments that demonstrate progress from lab to commercialization. On the research front we had a record number of poster sessions, and sold-out attendance at the pre-conference tour of the The National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a leader in state-of-the-art algae research in the United States.

On the commercial side, attendees in Denver heard details about impressive projects like Sapphire Energy’s integrated biorefinery in New Mexico—more than 300 acres and 600 jobs that will soon be producing 100 barrels a day.

Algenol’s incredible announcement, heard first by Summit attendees, that it is producing 7,000 gallons of ethanol per acre was a potent reminder of the incredible potential that algae have to produce a variety of fuels in great quantities with high efficiency.

“Together in the same room was the present—and future—of our industry.”

The focus was not on fuels alone, however. We heard from corporate giants like Kimberly Clark about its use of algae to replace plant fiber in tissues and paper, as well as fibers used in carpets.

We heard from the Scoular Company, a century-old agribusiness company buying, selling, storing, handling and transporting grain and food and feed ingredients worldwide, about their use of algae in the animal feed and food markets.

Captivating photos of algae projects in Europe, shown by Vitor Verdelho Vieira, Chief Development Officer at A4F-AlgaFuel, reminded everyone that efforts in the U.S. are not alone and that we should not be complacent. Major government and private investment in India, China, and almost every OECD country (even Iceland) means many more companies are entering than exiting the space—the first signs of a possible global boom (or should I say bloom?).

Each year the industry promises to show its best at the Algae Biomass Summit, and each year it does not disappoint.

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