U.S. DOE Awards $100 Million
to Three Algae Biorefineries
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Dec. 4 the selection of three algae-based integrated biorefinery projects to receive nearly $100 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities. The projects selected are part of the ongoing effort to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.
“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”
Joining Secretary Chu, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack noted that USDA Rural Development has selected San Diego, California based Sapphire Energy to receive a loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefinery Assistance Program to demonstrate an integrated algal biorefinery process that will cultivate algae in ponds, and will use dewatering and oil extraction technology to produce an intermediate that will then be processed into drop-in green fuels such as jet fuel and diesel. The actual project will be constructed in Columbus, New Mexico, U.S. “The development of renewable energy is a critical component of our efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This Farm Bill program is instrumental in increasing our energy independence and expanding new technologies and markets for agricultural and environmental waste material.”
The Biorefinery Assistance Program, authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill, promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of fuels that are produced from non-corn kernel starch biomass sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project. The loan guarantee will be subject to the availability of funds and contingent upon Sapphire Energy meeting the conditions of the loan agreement.
Following is a list of the selected algae-based projects: Algenol Biofuels, Inc., Freeport, Texas, U.S. DOE grant: $25,000,000 Non-fed funding: $33,915,478 This project will make ethanol directly from carbon dioxide and seawater using algae. The facility will have the capacity to produce 100,000 gallons of fuel grade ethanol per year.
Solazyme, Inc.: Riverside, Pennsylvania, U.S. DOE grant: $21,765,738 Non-fed funding: $3,857,111 This project will validate the projected economics of a commercial scale biorefinery producing multiple advanced biofuels and will produce algae oil that can be converted to oil-based fuels.
Sapphire Energy, Inc.; Columbus, New Mexico, U.S. DOE grant: $50,000,000 Non-fed funding: $85,064,206 This project will cultivate algae in ponds that will ultimately be converted into green fuels, such as jet fuel and diesel, using the Dynamic Fuels refining process.