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.
Read more: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a-new-use-for-algae-natural-gas/
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Another interesting little piece popped up on earth2tech this morning that I just can’t resist sharing. As a PR firm, we love working with startups. Really, we do: the struggle to grow is an adrenaline rush, and the challenge of defining their identity even as they work to determine how they fit is oftentimes frustrating, but extremely rewarding. These days, green startups are exploding, however, and even VCs are having trouble gauging which ones are the real deal.
With stimulus funds now flowing into the smart grid, investors are rushing to get in the game. And the opportunities are indeed aplenty. According to Katie Fehrenbacher, picking the market leader should be easy: the firms that have managed to complete deals with larger utility companies are clearly a step ahead of the game, right? The problem is that most utility giants are currently “sampling” the smart grid landscape, and doing a host of smaller pilot deals with several startups. And this means that almost all of the contenders have some small deal with a larger utility company. So how to suss out the winners from the also-rans?
This is a really interesting discussion that will undoubtedly get hotter as the push toward energy efficiency grows. Listen and learn…
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There’s no denying that green tech has become sort of a buzzword in the industry, but beyond the millions of great ideas, is the reality of turning those ideas into successful business ventures. To address this and the various other issues surrounding the economic implications of clean-energy policies, Van Jones, special adviser for green jobs, enterprise, and innovation in the White House, recently spoke at the Bentley University Leadership Forum.
Tasked with coordinating green job-related initiatives among different government agencies, Jones relayed his message that a “riptide of innovation” was about to flow through the energy industry if President Barack Obama has his way.
In addition to touting the recent stimulus package, Jones indicated that the most promising industries for growth are those at the crossroads of information technology and energy technology.
“Five to 10 years from now, the people making the most money are the people who figure how to store those clean electrons and move them around the country,” Jones said.
To read more about Jones’ speech, check out the CNET News article at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10220936-54.html.
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