The world needs energy, and the demand for affordable, reliable and scalable sources of energy is growing at an unsustainable rate. A visionary group of scientists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders recognized the urgent need for new technology that could set the country on a path to a sustainable energy future. What started as an examination of how biotechnology could address the biggest challenges facing our world is today Sapphire Energy.
Sapphire Energy, Inc. was founded with one mission in mind: to change the world by developing a price-competitive, renewable source of energy that benefits the environment, hastens energy independence, and is 100% compatible with the existing network of pipelines, refineries and transportation systems.
That ambitious goal is now a reality. Sapphire has built a proprietary platform based on patented technologies to convert algae into a renewable, sustainable and scalable source of energy, also known as Green Crude. As the company’s founders knew, algae is the perfect candidate for energy production. Millions of years ago ancient algae blooms transformed into the crude oil we use today in our cars, trucks and planes. Taking a cue from nature, Sapphire applied advanced biotechnology and modern farming techniques to create a platform to produce Green Crude oil from algae in just a matter of weeks. With more than 300 issued and pending patents across the technological spectrum, the Sapphire platform encompasses the full value chain of producing oil from algae on a large scale — from strain development to cultivation, to harvest and finally to conversion into Green Crude. Sapphire is now the first — and only — company to produce a renewable source of crude oil on a continuous basis from algae biomass.
Sapphire Energy stands at the intersection of biotechnology, agriculture, and energy with the potential to profoundly change the world’s energy and petrochemical landscape.
Sapphire has four facilities in California and New Mexico. In 2011, the company began construction of the Green Crude Farm, the world’s first commercial demonstration algae-to-energy facility in Columbus, New Mexico. This project was awarded $104 million in federal funding, including a grant from the United States Department of Energy and a loan guarantee from the United States Department of Agriculture. Construction of Phase 1 of this demonstration site, which includes one hundred wet acres of algae ponds and all the processing equipment needed for the facility, was completed on-time and on-budget in 2012. The Green Crude Farm has been in continuous operation ever since. In 2013, the Company announced the repayment of the remaining loan balance in full from the USDA after receiving additional equity from private investors.
Sapphire Energy has established itself as the industry leader in algal fuel technology. In 2008, the Company successfully produced 91-octane gasoline from algae that fully conformed to ASTM standards. In 2009, Sapphire Energy participated in Continental Airlines Boeing 737 and JAL Boeing 747 test flights providing algae-based jet fuel. That same year, the Company provided fuel for the world’s first cross-country tour of a gasoline vehicle powered by a drop-in replacement fuel from algae-based Green Crude. In 2013, Sapphire signed its first commercial customer, Tesoro.
Sapphire Energy is backed by a team of the nation’s leading researchers, scientists, and top-tier, long-term investors, such as The Wellcome Trust, ARCH Venture Partners, the Rockefeller family’s Venrock, Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, and agriculture industry giant Monsanto. Sapphire has research and engineering partnerships with such corporate luminaries as industrial gas and chemical specialist Linde, nutraceutical algae producer Earthrise, bioagricultural leader Monsanto, and the Institute for Systems Biology, a world-renowned research organization.
Milestone after milestone, Sapphire continues to deliver for partners and investors, while cultivating its algae-to-energy expertise, securing new collaborations, and breaking down the barriers to commercial-scale production. Sapphire Energy stands at the intersection of biotechnology, agriculture, and energy with the potential to profoundly change the world’s energy and petrochemical landscape.