Thursday, May 14, 2009

Solar charged electric motorcycle in Apache Junction

Just saw this on Gas 2.0: a (supposedly) fully electric, solar charged motorcycle. 50 mile range and 90 mph top speed. Right here in Apache Junction!

GreenFuel Technologies goes down...

The company that partnered with APS at the "Redhawk" facility to capture carbon dioxide from the power plant's emissions is going out of business.

We've often wondered what happened to the GreenFuel/APS algae pilot: now we know.

Getting the whole thing to run smoothly [...] was tougher than expected. GreenFuel could grow algae. The problem was controlling it. In 2007, a project to grow algae in an Arizona greenhouse went awry when the algae grew faster than they could be harvested and died off. The company also found its system would cost more than twice its target.

The closed photobioreactor model used by GreenFuel (and others) appears especially challenging in terms of up-front expense.

I recently posted a link to a paper by Jeff Hassania which discusses the sobering economics of algae.

A GreenFuel Technologies timeline is available at BiofuelsDigest.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Visit to XL Renewables

On Monday I had the opportunity to visit the XL Renewables algae production facility in Casa Grande, AZ and was deeply impressed by the progress they are making: among other things, I was able to leave with some sample algae that was a HUGE hit with the 7th grade class I spoke to about biofuels on Tuesday.

I particularly like the trench-based, farm-like model that XL pursues, as their low-cost approach seems like a promising way to address the difficult economic challenges that algae producers face. It was also great to speak with Mike Bellefuille and George McNeely of XL and hear about the hard-won lessons they are learning about growing algae at production scale -- they've had to navigate through a host of practical difficulties and now have invaluable experience (and lots of algae!) to show for it.

It's fantastic to see algae moving beyond just lab experiments and PowerPoint slides. Kudos to XL for meeting the "running code" test!

Mike Bellefuille and George McNeely

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nice review for Green Algae Strategy

Congratulations to Mark Edwards, whose book Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports and Engineer Sustainable Food and Fuel continues to receive some great reviews; see, e.g., this review at Celsias. Green Algae Strategy is available at and via free download on the downloads page (scroll down).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Desert Sweet Biofuels forum at ASU SkySong

At our recent workshop Professor Mark Edwards announced a forum that he is coordinating with Gary Woods and the team from Desert Sweet Biofuels, a commercial algae venture. The forum is planned for Friday, May 22 (not May 15, as initially announced) from 9am to noon, at ASU SkySong; the flyer for the event can be downloaded here.

Mark is planning to facilitate additional forums where different companies and organizations can do a "deep dive" on their particular technologies or vision (i.e., not constrained by the 5 minute format we insisted on for the Workshop). Please contact Mark if you'd be interested in presenting at such a forum. We're envisioning a monthly speakers series, picking up in the Fall.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More DPF/biodiesel news

Popular Mechanics has posted an article by Dave Hubbard explaining the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) / biodiesel incompatibility issue, and Jason Burroughs of DieselGreen Fuels has written up his experience with a 2009 VW TDI on biodieselSMARTER.