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Bill Gates goes green with algae biofuel investment

The world’s richest software geek, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, is one of the investors behind the latest round of funding for algae biofuel company Sapphire Energy.

The Series B funding brings the total funding in Sapphire Energy to “substantially more than $100m” and investors include Gates’ investment company Cascade Investment, Arch Venture Partners, Wellcome Trust and Venrock.

Sapphire says the money takes it a step closer to bringing the algae biofuel production to commercial scale and plans to use the funds to scale up its production facilities accordingly. The company says it anticipates relying on existing investors to achieve its initial commercial production capability of 10,000 barrels per day.

The company is aiming to produce “Green Crude” on a commercial scale within three to five years.
For those wondering exactly how this stuff works, Sapphire uses sunlight, CO2, industrial micro-organisms, non-arable land and non-drinkable water to produce its Green Crude petrol alternative, which can be refined into chemically identical fuel products compatible with the existing energy infrastructure.

Sapphire Energy CEO Jason Pyle says:

“We created Sapphire Energy by working backwards and considering what a perfect fuel would look like – carbon neutral, renewable, not dependent on arable land or potable water. We are creating an entirely new category of energy – Green Crude Production – and are now at a point where we can focus on implementing our plans without worrying about fundraising.”

Photo credit: Microsoft


  • LeeB
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Why don’t the supermarket chains get involved with their customers in tackling the c02 problem and future oil shortages. IF customers vehicles were fitted with carbon capture systems (ecobox), captured the carbon, when shopping at the supermarket chain, the carbon is extracted in a hybrid parking space, the customer gets green loyalty credits to buy bio-fuels, saving on enviromentally friendly products, organic products, green electricity points etc. The supermarket chain gets the co2, which is stored in a header tank at the store, or feed into a bio-reactor (alage) to produce the various extracts. Same can be done by the supermarket chain and its suppliers. All are then encouraged by the carrot of something for nothing and the chain also gets to supply bio-mix or pure bio fuel for its customers throughh its forecourts and can supply its own fleet of vehicles. Even powergeneration on a small scale. This could also be replicated on a municipal / local council shceme at a local drop off point. Participating citizens could recieve credits on local taxes (all done through telemetry), money of leisure and fitness schemes etc in exchange for the co2 produced from their vehicles / homes. This co2 is used to provide feedstock to the algae and the fuels/vers are used to help the municipal financially and enviromentally. Just a thought, but now we have the distribution sorted out, feedstock, fuel, minerals and a cleaner enviroment, cleaned up by the people that live in it, without the loss of lifestyle.

  • Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D.
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Algae biofuel is one of many technofixes that are still in the R and D phase of development. The trillions of dollars of investment and 10 years of development are not there. Even if we had 50 years, algae biofuel would not be able to gives us more than a trickle of oil. Here is reality.

    According to most independent scientific studies, global oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 14%.

    This is equivalent to a 33% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always exceed production levels; thus oil depletion will continue steadily until all recoverable oil is extracted.

    Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

    We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from “outside,” and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

    This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed:

    I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207.

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