More than 650 attendees and 50 speakers looked at the future of algae biodiesel at a recent conference in Seattle.
The Algae Biomass Summit, hosted by firms Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Byrne and Company, brought together those exploring the scientific and commercial advances of the field of the slimy green biodiesel feedstock. Our friends at Biodiesel Magazine covered the event sponsored by the Algal Biomass Organization and filed this report (and, of course, several others):
Mario Tredici from the department of agricultural biotechnology at the University of Florence in Italy said algae has many of the properties for a second green revolution that could help satisfy the world’s energy and food needs. However, algae have very specific culture requirements to produce near their theoretical potential. Changing light conditions as the density of cultures increase can limit the efficiency of the plants ability to convert sunlight into biomass. “Algae are not a miracle,” he said. “It must obey the laws of thermodynamics.” He does believe, with the proper technology and understanding of algae’s biology, that yields of 70 to 80 tons of algae can be produced per hectare (approximately 2.5 acres), producing 15 to 20 tons of oil and about twice that much protein.
The true value of algae will rely on the total amount of biomass not just the oil content, said Mark Tegan, chief executive officer of Inventure Chemical. Inventure processes biomass products into value-added products. Algae produce three distinct products – oil, carbohydrates and protein. Each component can be processed downstream into a variety of valuable products. “There is a lot of opportunity available in the chemical market,” Tegan said.
The coverage included discussions on how the current credit crisis might actually be good for the algae biodiesel business and the market potential of the feedstock and fuel.