Green Startup of the Week: Sapphire Energy Goes Green with Algae
US Green Technology
Startup Sapphire Energy Is Making Algae the New Green Gold
Goodbye, black gold. Hello, green gold. That’s right, Sapphire Energy, an algae biofuel green startup, is receiving a whopping $144 million from investors such as agriculture company Monsanto. Sapphire Energy essentially is acquiring enough greens to erect a commercial algae demonstration plant called the Green Crude Farm in New Mexico.
Sapphire Energy’s purpose essentially is to create a green crude from algae that can be turned to jet fuel, diesel or gas. This green startup now has raised more than $300 million in public and private funds, with some of Sapphire Energy’s previous investors including the Department of Agriculture ($54.4 million loan guarantee); the Department of Energy ($50 million grant); and even Cascade Investment, Bill Gates’ investment firm.
Sapphire Energy’s goal initially had been to increase its production to a million gallons of algae-based jet fuel and diesel fuel each year by 2011 as well as 100 million gallons annually by 2018 and a billion gallons yearly by 2025. The goal now is to yield 1.5 million gallons of this green by 2014.
Sapphire Energy also has established a partnership with agriculture company Monsanto, which would give Monsanto access to the energy company’s genetic research technology. Isolating traits in algae, Monsanto officials say, can be helpful for altering its other crops. These types of partnerships are necessary for green startups such as Sapphire Energy to reach their full potential through commercialization. Fellow algae green startup Solazyme has decided to focus less on fuel and more on food and personal care products using its algae.