Renewable energy company Genifuel Corporation today announced a license from Pacific Northwest National Labs for a process to turn algae into natural gas. The company began as an algae biodiesel company, but discovered that making liquid fuel wasn’t feasible, given the problems presented by genetic modification requirements, leftover biomass, and the arduous water separation process. A few companies in the space are devising techniques to work around this, but Genifuel has taken its technology and done something even cooler.
Now it takes algae that grows in ponds and actually cooks it, which produces a synthetic gas that is 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is pumped back into the algae ponds as food, and voila! We’re left with a natural gas that will actually require lower subsidies than its liquid algae counterpart to be competitive with fossil fuels.
Genifuel is still looking for funding (isn’t every innovator these days?), but these guys definitely deserve at least a second look from a VC. Way to take lemons (or in this case, slimy green plants), and turn them into… well, energy.