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Photon8 Developing ‘Drop-In’ Fuels from Algae

October 30, 2010
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Photon8, Inc., of Brownsville, TX, has announced that it has succeeded in producing “drop-in” fuel components from its “genetically improved” algae. The recent tests were performed by an undisclosed commercial laboratory using gas chromatography analysis for determining carbon chain length and degree of saturation. “Verified by an outside lab, the newest results support the company’s plan for the production of jet fuel and diesel fuel,” says Brad Bartilson, President and CEO of Photon8, Inc.

The company is currently patenting their technology and has not gone public with specific details of their process. According to Bartilson, “The process is simpler than those who propose producing ‘green crude’ and sending it through an oil refinery hydrotreating system. We have already achieved the productivity of 5600 gal/acre/year, and most importantly, within our confines of under $10/m2, leading to a cost of jet fuel components of less than $1.50/gallon.”

Photon8 claims their new processing methods render hydrocarbons identical to those of conventional fuels, eliminating the need for blending. “The current biofuels on the market, ethanol and biodiesel, require blending with fossil fuels to render them engine-compatible over the specified range of operating conditions,” says Bartilson.

“Ethanol, which currently fills the majority of the RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) mandate, leaves much to be desired —a very poor energy return ratio, a low energy content, high fresh water consumption, emits CO2 in its production, and cannot be pumped down the nation’s pipeline network. Biodiesel, which avoids many of these issues, currently requires mixing with fossil-based diesel in order to meet cold temperature operation conditions. Elimination of blending requirements means a greater displacement of imported oil.”

The company will be presenting further details on its progress at the World Algae Conference in San Francisco, December 6-8, 2010.

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