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Energy companies join forces to advance algae crude oil commercialisation

13 December 2013

Sapphire Energy, an algae-based Green Crude oil producer, and Phillips 66, an integrated energy manufacturing and logistics company, announced a joint development agreement aimed at pushing production of algae crude oil towards commercialisation.

The US-based companies will collect and analyse data from co-processing of algae and conventional crude oil into fuels including diesel, petrol and jet fuel. Current testing programmes will also be expanded.

The goal, they say, is to complete fuel certifications to ready Sapphire Energy's renewable crude oil, Green Crude, for wide-scale refining.

'In under a year, Sapphire Energy has entered into contracts with two major companies in the oil and gas industry, showing that there is 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 California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),' says Cynthia Warner, CEO and chairman of Sapphire Energy.

Phillips 66 has previous experience in algae research, hydroprocessing and fuels upgrading. The company's biofuels platform is part of a strategy that also includes research and development of fuel cells and solar cells.

Sapphire Energy produces crude oil daily from algae biomass cultivated and harvested at its Green Crude Farm, located in New Mexico. In initial testing, Green Crude oil was upgraded into on-spec ASTM 975 diesel fuel.

The company says it expects to be at commercial demonstration scale in 2015, commercial scale in 2018, and is eventually projected to produce 1 billion gallons per year by 2025.