Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Statements from the 2014 Algae Biomass Summit in San Diego

The San Diego Union Times covered the recent ABO meeting [ 2014 Algae Biomass Summit ] in the post Algae's promise rebounds after setbacks

Sapphire CEO James Levine said

“You have to look at the products you can make and the customers you can serve. Green Crude is absolutely an important part of Sapphire’s future, but there will be other parts that will be equally important. ... We look forward to providing more information on that over time.”

Stephen Mayfield is quoted:

"A reasonable extrapolation would be that a 50 percent yield increase can be achieved in the next five years, and a doubling of yield in the next 10,” Mayfield wrote in the March issue of the Applied Phycology newsletter.

His prediction: “Algae oil achieves economic parity with fossil crude oil at $140 a barrel in 2019 and beats it by $50 a barrel by 2024, when algae oil is at full commercial production scale.

This is based on the more complete text:

A price for algae oil was recently determined in a paper by Benneman et al (2012) and placed at $240 a barrel, based on
some conservative assumptions. So let us say that $240 a barrel is today’s price for algae oil, and then
assume that as a result of logical biological and process decisions, algae fall into an agricultural model
of increased productivity and reduced price over the next ten years. Viewing Americ
an agriculture for the last 50 years, it is clear that crop yields have increased dramatically over this period, with corn yields for example going up almost 400%. It seems reasonable to assume that algae yields will follow a similar
path, especially over
the next few years, when large gains should be easier to come by as genomic and
molecular technologies begin to be applied to a crop that has yet to benefit from these proven
innovations. A reasonable extrapolation would be that a 50% yield increase can be
achieved in the next
five years, and a doubling of yield in the next ten. So, even if no other breakthroughs emerge in process
development, harvesting, extraction or any other technology (which is unlikely), based on agricultural
productivity and innovation precedents, algae oil costs should reasonably decrease by 50% with the next
five years and be half of today’s cost within a decade. Process engineering developments will also
contribute to decreased cost and perhaps increased yields, so even assuming no
new inventions, these
trends point to algae oil nearing the $100 a barrel cost floor within five years, and potentially a further
decrease in cost over the five following years. This increase will not have the same impact, but will
reduce cost below the $100 a barrel floor.

The 2012 reference: Life Cycle Assessment for Microalgae Oil Production. Benemann, J., Woertz, J., Lundquist, T.
Disruptive Science and Technology. 2012, 1(2): 68


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