Algae-to-oil process ready for prime time

March 15, 2011 at 9:17 AM
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LOS ANGELES, March 15 (UPI) -- A method to use algae to produce oil is moving from the development to the commercial phase, a California research company announced.

OriginOil in 2009 designed methods to transform algae into a competitor to petroleum, noting much of the world's oil and gas reserves are derived from ancient deposits of algae.

OriginOil Chief Executive Officer Riggs Eckelberry said technology at his company has improved to the point that it was ready to go commercial with its developments.

"This includes seeking independent validations, combining with other systems in the process chain, aggressively developing our intellectual property, signing distribution partnerships and the many other activities involved in commercialization of a new technology," he said in a statement.

Supermajor Exxon Mobil has teamed with Synthetic Genomics on a $600 million partnership to genetically engineer new strains of algae for biofuels.

Exxon said algae could generate as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre each year, compared to the palm tree yield of 650 gallons and 450 gallons for sugar cane.

"OriginOil will continue to innovate, it's in our DNA," quipped Eckelberry.

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