‘Continuous Cultivation and Crude Oil Production in New Mexico
San Diego-based Sapphire Energy is talking up a commercial agreement with Tesoro Refining and Marketing for San Antonio-based Tesoro to purchase algae-based crude oil from Sapphire’s “Green Crude Farm” in Columbus, N.M. Sapphire further reports that it recently achieved “continuous cultivation and crude oil production” there.
“In less than one year, Sapphire Energy has started up its commercial demonstration to grow algae; has produced crude oil from our farm; and now with Tesoro as our first commercial customer, we’re providing barrels of our oil to be refined for market use,” Sapphire chairman and CEO Cynthia “C.J.” Warner said in a release.
“This moment is enormously important for the industry as it validates the benefits and advantages of Green Crude, and confirms its place as a market-viable, refiner-ready, renewable crude oil solution,” Warner said.
Sapphire is producing crude oil daily from algae biomass cultivated and harvested at the Green Crude Farm. Oil is extracted via a patented method for converting wet algae to crude oil, the company says, avoiding a time-consuming and costly drying step.
Wet Extraction Is Key
“Wet extraction technology for algae-based crude oil has been considered one of the biggest challenges to commercialization,” Sapphire says. “With this process, which is the result of more than four years of research, development and field trials, the entire algae cell is now used in oil production, greatly improving yield.
“Furthermore, the process is scalable, and has proven to be effective with a wide range of algae strains.”
Sapphire says that its Green Crude has been refined into on-spec ASTM 975 diesel, “proving its compatibility with the existing network of pipelines, refineries and transport systems.”
As for Sapphire’s new customer, “Tesoro is continuously looking at new technologies for producing renewable fuels,” Tesoro renewable development VP Joel Larkins says in the Sapphire announcement. “We are pleased to become a purchaser of Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude, which shows promise as an alternative fuel solution,” Larkins said.
Lloyd Kunimoto is chief business officer at Sapphire Energy.
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Source: Sapphire Energy with Fleets & Fuels follow-up