In the desert scrub outside of Columbus, New Mexico, Sapphire Energy is commissioning the most advanced, algae fuel production facility in the world. Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude Farm or IABR (Integrated Algal Biorefinery) is the world’s first commercial demonstration scale algae-to-energy farm, integrating the entire value chain of algae-based crude oil production, from cultivation, to production, to extraction of ready-to-refine Green Crude.
Led by private investment, Sapphire was awarded a $50 million grant from the Department of Energy and a $54.4 million dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Agriculture, providing security for a privately funded loan. These awards exemplify the value the United States sees in weaning dependency off petroleum and transitioning to a purposeful and domestic form of new energy. This nation understands the impact that full-scale algae-based fuels can, and will have on our nation’s economy and national security. The IABR project will demonstrate the viability of growing, extracting and refining Green Crude into drop-in liquid transportation fuels. The overall goal of Sapphire’s Green Crude Farm is to demonstrate that the algae-to-Green Crude-to-fuel process scales with favorable economics.
The algae crude produced at the Green Crude Farm will demonstrate the potential for the technology to scale and to increase energy and national security for the United States.
Sapphire’s commercial demonstration facility is entering its first stage of operations. The facility is on-schedule and on-budget. The demonstration begins its phase 1 with the inoculation of its first pond systems and a series of “shake-down-testing” continuing through 2012 with scale up operations and expansion of farming operations into 2013 to the full 100 acres.
|Size||56 metric tons of CO2 per day; 300 cultivated acres|
|Primary Products||Jet fuel and diesel|
|Capacity||1 million gallons per year of finished product|
|GHG Reduction||60-70% reduction compared to traditional fossil crude|
|Operations||Phase 1 began with the inoculation of the first 100 acres of pond systems and a series of “shake-down-testing” Phase 2 of the project will begin to scale up and expand farming operations.|
When fully operational, the IABR will beneficially reuse CO2 to produce green crude oil from algae. The algae will consume approximately 56 metric tons of CO2 per day and produce, on average, 100 barrels of green crude oil per day, or approximately 1 million gallons per year of finished fuel product. At this scale, Sapphire will be able to fully vet the production processes and techno-economics, yielding a template for even larger commercial facilities. It is a measured and effective approach to becoming a permanent form of crude oil for the US and the world.
The Green Crude Farm is a fully sustainable project. Biomass not used in the production of fuel will be recycled as nutrients to support the algae ponds. Reintroducing the residual biomass to the pond systems significantly lowers overall fertilizer requirements and carbon footprint.
As technology is proven and economies of scale are achieved at the IABR, the design and construction of the first commercial biorefinery will start in 2015, and by 2018, Sapphire aims to produce 5,000 barrels per day of green crude leading to millions of gallons of renewable, domestically-produced liquid transportation fuels.