Here's some answers to many of our frequently asked questions.
The algae growing system is the primary expense in any algal biofuel system. Our harvest and conversion technology can process a wide variety of algae, which means we can utilize a low cost agricultural method to grow algae which relies on robust and resilient polycultures. Polycultures are widely used in aquaculture and can be grown without mixing, temperature control, pH control, CO2 injection or seed production facilities which are all commonly used in other algal production systems. They can also be grown with manure as the sole nutrient source.
Our growth method is in sharp contrast to existing algal growth technologies where a single strain of algae is engineered and grown in a controlled environment. In addition to our growth technology, we have also reduced cost throughout the production pipeline by developing lower cost methods to harvest and convert algae. This combination of innovations allows us to produce oil much more cheaply than has been done in the past.
Using fuels derived from algae crude oil, such as renewable gasoline, does not contribute to climate change, because the overall life cycle of production and burning is carbon neutral. When algae are grown to make crude oil they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When the resulting oil is burned, carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is not being added to the atmosphere overall, hence the phrase “carbon neutral.” When fossil fuels are burned, on the other hand, carbon that was stored in the ground is rapidly added to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, and not taken back out.
Algae crude oil is better than fossil crude oil because it is renewable and carbon neutral. By producing algae crude oil domestically to meet our fuel needs, we will create jobs in rural areas across the country. We would also have a more reliable, stable source of fuel than imported fossil fuels can provide.
At scale we will be able to produce oil for about the same average cost as OPEC producers, which is around $25/barrel. The market price of oil has not dropped this low since the late 1990s, so it is unlikely that oil prices will dip this low any time in the future. Any government incentives for renewable fuels would benefit our company’s economics, but our business models are not dependent on these incentives.
Our oil is chemically similar to fossil crude oil. We have tested our product in an independent lab and found that it meets ASTM standards for use as fuel oil. As we work to expand to more markets, we will continue to test our oil against ASTM standards for each market, and we will work with equipment manufacturers to validate our product in specific systems.
We will expand by working with independent farmers and land owners, who will grow algae using land that might not be suitable for other crops. One key advantage of algae is that it can be grown on land not suitable for traditional agriculture and using water other than fresh water, so there are many opportunities for large-scale algae growth to be implemented.
Algae is widely considered to be the perfect plant for biofuels, because it grows extremely fast and can be grown on many land and water types. The only reason it is not currently in commercial use as a biofuel feedstock is the high cost of production. Our patented technology has helped us overcome this cost barrier.
We have an exclusive license for a US patent on our magnetic algae harvesting technology. We also have multiple trade secrets that allow us to reduce the cost of our process relative to competitors.
The commercialization of solar and wind energy is successfully making our electricity grid more and more renewable, which is helping to reduce our dependence on oil. However, there are still many industries that will continue to need oil for the foreseeable future, such as marine shipping, long haul trucking, and long haul flights. Additionally, oil is used to make many synthetic materials, such as asphalt, clothing, and even most pharmaceuticals. A renewable replacement for crude oil is the surest way to make all of these processes renewable. Pursuing a renewable replacement for crude oil as a climate change mitigation strategy has the advantage that it will work with our entire existing global oil infrastructure.
Yes. Our technology can be used to harvest any type of algae, so it could be used to clean up algae blooms or any other place where algae grows.
Our production process is energy positive, meaning the energy used to make the fuel is less than the energy contained in the fuel.
We have validated each of the individual steps of our process, known as the “unit operations,” and used these to successfully make renewable crude oil. We have tested our oil against ASTM standards and have found that it meets spec for use as fuel oil. We are currently developing a 15 acre pilot scale facility that will further demonstrate the feasibility of our process in the field.