Skip to comments.Green oil? Phillips 66 strikes a deal to develop it
Posted on 12/11/2013 5:05:41 AM PST by thackney
A small San Diego company is teaming up with one of the nations largest oil refiners to bring an algae-based crude closer to market.
Its called green crude even though its not exactly green in color when its ready to hit the refineries. Sapphire Energy, the six-year-old company that makes the renewable crude, harvests algae biomass from photosynthetic microorganisms at a crude farm in New Mexico and turns it into oil. The company wants to make 1 billion gallons of the stuff every year by 2025.
Sapphire said Tuesday it has signed a contract with Houston refining giant Phillips 66 to blend green crude with regular crude in products like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Theyre not going to sell it, yet. First, theyre going to study it further in a Phillips 66 lab in Oklahoma.
The two companies hope to get the crude certified under Environmental Protection Agency fuel standards next year, which would enable the crude to be churned at traditional refineries, said Tim Zenk, vice president of corporate affairs for Sapphire, in an interview Tuesday.
Were on our way, he said. The company said it expects the green crude to be ready to hit the market in 2018.
There are other renewable crude oils made from algae heading toward commercialization, but Zenk said Sapphires could be the only one that harvests entire algae and cyanobacteria cells several other companies only extract lipids in the microorganisms. As for its color, Sapphires green crude is usually black, but it can turn green before chlorophyll is removed from the oil.
Earlier this year, Sapphire struck a deal with San Antonio refiner Tesoro Corp. to turn the crude into diesel. The two major contracts show increasing momentum for algae fuel as a viable crude oil alternative, and significant interest by refiners to have new and better options to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, said Cynthia Warner, chief executive at Sapphire, in a written statement.
It doesn’t matter if they make it from air. The left does not want people to have the multiple opportunities to prosper, innovate and act freely that plentiful and inexpensive supplies of energy provide. They will always find a reason why new sources are not suitable and should be restricted.
Good luck. I’m sure this will endanger the six-toed white grasshopper or something.
They even market the idea that this creates fuel by removing C02 from the atmosphere. In reality, it is a solar energy transportation fuel plant.
Are they able to make it commercially now?
What’s the sulfur content?
You’re correct. The Left is never satisfied. Remember when they demanded that we stop using paper bags? Now they are demanding that we stop using plastic bags.
Just as a point of reference, 1 billion gallons is about 23.8 million barrels. This represents about a 1 1/2 days or US oil use.
I believe almost no sulfur in the product. I haven’t found an assay of their oil yet. Below are some related discusion/links.
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Dozens of varieties of the microorganisms, also known as cyanobacteria, bob up and down in bulbous beakers at Joule. A green brew fills small photobioreactors, which are used to test the blue algae under various environmental conditions. “Here we simulate for example the day-and-night rhythm of Texas,” says Robinson, explaining one of the experiments. The company has a pilot plant in Texas.
The program is as complex as it is costly. Nevertheless, success appears to be proving the genetic engineers right. The microbiologists at Joule have created blue algae strains that pump so-called alkanes outward through their membranes. Alkanes are energy-rich hydrocarbons contained in diesel fuel. “You have to persuade the cell that it stops growing and makes the product of interest and does it continuously,” Robinson explains. In contrast to ethanol, the end product is not a low-quality fuel, but a highly pure product that contains no sulfur or benzene. “You could put our product in your car,” says Robinson.
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According to Jason Pyle, Sapphires CEO, the New Mexico algae ponds will be built on unproductive salt-saturated former agricultural land. The land grew cotton 15 years ago, but the growing salt content gradually made that impossible. Pyle said that green crude oil from algae looks very similar to petroleum, and is low in sulfur and heavy metals. He thinks that algae can replace up to 10 percent of our current transportation needs. The company’s goal is to produce fuel for $70 to $80 a barrel, which is of course cheaper than petroleum oil right now.
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What percentage of that biomass becomes fuel, and what percentage is left over for other purposes, and what are those purposes?
Back to our scheme being wholly focused on fuel, we have no other purposes. The goal of our entire process is to have no residual of any sort other than liquid oil. We cant attain that, because then wed have a perfect process, but weve gotten very close. The idea is that when you harvest the biomass, you extract the liquids, which can be as high as 50%, and then you recycle all of the 50% residual.
Back into the growth system.
Really? Not feed, not fertilizer?
No other product leaving the site except for fuel.
So, as nutrient for the next generations?
Exactly. If you look at where you lose a huge amount of money in these processes, its in nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur exiting the plant, because, one way or another, its a plant and they have to grow. One of the things that weve focused highly on is how we recover all of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur back into the system. And that is a really important feature of lowering cost and also being sustainable.
Is there anything else in the biomass that accumulates?
Inevitably you end up in a situation where you have to do what the engineers refer to as blowdown, because some amount of solid stuff is accumulating at a very, very low percentage, less than one percent in our case. But over long periods of time that becomes significant. Then you have to have a means to handle that. In our case, we model in our economics that we would landfill it. Its nontoxic and it can be used for land reclamation. But we model it as a cost, not as a profit center.
Tessoro was their first commercial customer back in March.
They are a private company so the finances are difficult to find.
~Socialist Enviro-Nazi Paul Ehrlich
Other gems from the same totalitarian liar:
The Population of the U.S. will shrink from 250 million to about 22.5 million before 1999 because of famine and global warming.
“Falling temperatures will cause the ice caps to sink into the ocean, producing] a global tidal wave that could wipe out a substantial portion of mankind, and the sea level could rise 60 to 100 feet.
You cannot justify the genocide of billions of algae!”
~Future statement from knucklehead at the EPA
I used to work with a Coker engineering firm. We evaluated taking in algae biomass as feedstock and found it would work fairly well.
I only use ~5 gal of Diesel most weeks. All I need is ~250gal of inexpensive Diesel/year. I can take delivery 2x per year and avoid going to the “gas” station.
Is Sapphire Energy a public traded company?
This would make more sense than burning food to run cars.
But we’ll see —
The technology is fine. Doing it without tax payer subsidies is what is important to me.
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