1. What is Green Crude?

    • Green Crude is the renewable crude oil that is a result of our proprietary process of turning algae into crude. It leverages the same industrial refining processes as current crude oil, yielding drop-in replacement transportation fuels that meet ASTM standards for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel that are environmentally sound, cost effective and scalable.
    • First- and second-generation biofuels are not compatible with the petroleum infrastructure while Green Crude fits within the existing infrastructure – from refinement through distribution, including the retail supply chain.
  2. How does Sapphire Energy produce fuel from algae?

    • The process for making algae into fuel at a very high level is this: we grow the algae in open ponds with only sunlight, CO2 and non-potable saltwater in deserts. We harvest the algae and extract the oils from the algae biomass. We prepare for processing and refining using traditional refining methods.
    • By applying the principals used in bio-agriculture, Sapphire has been able to produce oil in algae that is highly branched and undecorated – the way that traditional crude is – to get biological crude that is molecularly similar to light sweet crude. This Green Crude is then processed at a refinery just as traditional crude to make all three major distillates – gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
    • Sapphire applies the principals of bio-agriculture by developing algae which are optimized for growing an industrial organism. The seeds are bred to resist disease or predators, to make the algae easy to harvest, and to produce oils which leverage the existing refining, transportation and distribution systems we use for traditional petroleum.
  3. How long is the process of making fuel from algae?

    • Starting from seed through oil extraction, the process is about 14 days on average, but it is continuous. Algae grows year-round, so there is tremendous potential.
  4. What is the timeline for commercializing the technology?

    • The technology is here now. We’ve successfully tested our fuel in two commercial flights (Continental and JAL) and a cross-country road trip (Algaeus).          


  5. What is your carbon footprint? How does Algae-based fuel fit into the Low Carbon Fuel Initiatives?

    • Sapphire’s green crude is good for the environment. At the very least, algae-based fuel is a low-carbon alternative to the current fossil fuels. Each kg of algal biomass requires the assimilation of 1.8 kg of CO2. Considering approximately 50 percent of the algal biomass consists of oil, the production of each gallon of oil consumes approximately 12-14 kg of CO2. On a GHG-lifecycle-basis, fuels produced from algae will significantly reduce CO2 impacts from the transportation sector and beneficially reuse CO2 to produce low carbon fuels in the process.
  6. What distinguishes Sapphire Energy from other biofuel companies?

    • While other companies are producing biodiesel fuel from algae, only Sapphire is making crude oil that fits into the existing fuel transport and distribution infrastructure. We’re focused on producing ASTM-certified fuels at a commercial scale without the use of sugar or any other feedstock. Our Green Crude is produced directly from CO2 and sunlight and the resulting fuel is not biodiesel, but high-value, renewable hydrocarbons.
    • Sapphire’s green crude is a non-food based biological and renewable form of energy. It can be produced on a large scale – eventually more than 1 billion gallons a year – and is a complete drop-in fuel replacement. There is no need to change the current petroleum infrastructure, from refinement through distribution and the retail supply chain.
  7. Does Sapphire use Genetically Modified Algae?

    • Sapphire’s primary advantage is that we’ve been able to bring all of the different technologies from different fields into creating commercially viable algae. We use all known bio-agriculture technologies to do this, including species selection, trait selection and mutagenesis, and in the future we will use genetic modification but are not deploying engineered strains at this time.
  8. Is Sapphire Energy publicly traded?

    • Sapphire Energy is privately held.
  9. Where is Sapphire Energy based?

    • Our headquarters are in San Diego, CA. We also have offices in Orange County, CA and a 22-acre R&D facility in Las Cruces, NM. We are currently operating an Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery in Columbus, New Mexico.


Sapphire Energy Story - Lab