ENVIRONMENT
12/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Colorado Company Takes Algae-Based Fuel to the Next Level

A Colorado company will break ground early next year on an algae farm that is intended to produce thousands of gallons of substitutes for gasoline and diesel at a rate per acre far higher than current biofuel projects.

Solix Biofuels, of Fort Collins, said on Monday that it had raised $15.5 million in capital and would begin with a five-acre plot to produce "biocrude.'' That will in turn be shipped to an oil refinery in place of crude oil, according to Douglas R. Henston, the company CEO.

Algae has held special appeal for renewable energy researchers -- and some investors -- because the organism readily converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into a hydrocarbon fuel, producing an oil that can harvested for use as biodiesel. And the more CO2 present, the faster the algae grows. That holds the promise of cleaner-burning fuels that simultaneously scrub CO2 from the atmosphere during their production. Algae can also regenerate at a remarkable rate, doubling its volume in a matter of hours under the right conditions, and yielding far more of its body weight in oil than any biofuel feed stock currently in use.

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