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Imperium Backing Algae Biodiesel Startup

Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Imperium Renewables, the Seattle biodiesel producer that opened a 100 million gallon per year biodiesel plant in Grays Harbor County last week, is backing a Tacoma start-up that is developing a process to convert algae into biodiesel and ethanol.

The startup, Inventure Chemical, has raised about $1.5 million to continue development on a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol.

Imperium has not been shy about experimenting with algae to create biodiesel, especially since its plans to use imported palm oil have been met with criticism from environmentalists. Some believe that cultivating palm oil for energy needs could lead to the destruction of the rain forests.

In addition to the investment in Inventure, Imperium has a partnership with South San Francisco-based Solazyme, which also is attempting to convert algae into biofuels. In its IPO filing earlier this year, Imperium wrote that it would continue to explore “new or improved feedstock sources, such as jatropha, mustard and algae, in an effort to leverage our multi-feedstock capabilities and further reduce our production costs.”

Inventure has developed patent-pending technology that it says can process a variety of algae species, ranging from less than 1 micron to 10 microns, and including salt water and fresh water species and generate biodiesel and ethanol from the same algae mass.

Inventure claims that its process generates near the theoretical maximum triglyceride and fatty acid conversion yields to fatty acid methyl or ethyl esters.

Inventure CEO Mark Tegen said that the new capital will be used to continue the work on scaling up the production process, including CO2 sequestering projects. Some resources will also focus on recent advances in processes for algae to jet fuel production.


Max Reid

I guess this is the high yield method, good initiative.


Hmm. If their process can utilize a wider variety of species, they might be able to use the open pond cultivation system that is much cheaper than enclosed photobioreactors. From what I've read, cost is the major obstacle to making algae really work.

Energy Researcher

Algae will be grown at a large dairy farm being built in Central AZ. They will produce biodiesel from the 50% oil portion, and the other half will be fed to milk cows. The cows manure will be used to feed the algae and produce production power for the farm and the grid…Algae installations will also be adapted to the CO2 rich exhaust of new and existing ethanol refineries. The algae will produce biodiesel from the 50% oil portion. That will be sold to corn farmers and biomass farmers nearby - to raise their crops for the refinery. The other portion of the algae will either be made into ethanol, converted into livestock feed, or dried and burned as production power for the plant – replacing natural gas. Biomass burn power plants and coal burning power plants will also be equipped with algae production - scaled to the amount of CO2 and noxious fumes in the exhaust which algae thrives on. At dairy farms, the highest use of the algae is biodiesel and feed for the cows. At ethanol refineries, the highest use of the algae is biodiesel and ethanol. At biomass burn and coal burning power plants, the highest use for the algae is to supplement and reduce the amount of biomass and coal being burned. The algae is grown onsite and hybridized into these facilities. In this way, plant exhaust will be recycled continuously to feed the next batch of algae, instead of being released into the air.

Why could't we compel all coal fired power generation plants to recylce their CO2 with colocated (or nearby) algae plants?

Financing this endeavour could be done over a 10 to 15 year period.

Add (for a fix period) a 1 to 2 cents/Kwh (CO2 tax) to the polluting power generation plants and award an equivalent subsidy to the algae equipped plants.

The exact amount of CO2 tax and subsidy should be enough to increase the power producer profit margin (up to a maximum of +10%) for the initial introduction period.

I agree with the general sentiments of the above comments [posted 8/24/07 9:56 am ]. In addition, I would find ways to provide incentives to those companies that come up with a robust and economical way of growing / harvesting / processing algae, to get into the Chinese market, where coal fired power plants have created a tremendous amount of all kinds of pollution.


Very interesting. Could you let us have Imperium´s,Inventure Chemical´s and Central AZ Dairy Farm´s e-mail.
We are a group investigating the possibilities of ALGAE to be used for biodiesel etc. in CHILE,that has no petroleum but does have 5000 km of Pacific coast and sun-illuminated deserts in our north, close to the ocean

John Schreiber

the dairy farm's website is
it should have contact info.

T. Transporter

The article about the AZ Dairy Farm growing Algae for fuel and feed and production power is here:

The dairy: XL Dairy Group Inc.:

The refinery: XL Biorefinery-Vicksburg


If I had to rank all the types of alternative fuels that can power
vehicles, I would definitely consider algae biodiesel the most
promising for the long term. Hydrogen, cellulosic ethanol and others
simply can't compare to the efficiency, practicality and
sustainability of algae biodiesel. I recently was very enlightened
by this site: . I am very
surprised at how many companies are developing the technology and how
close they are to commercialization.






I think algae biofuel will be great for the environment.

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