OriginOil, Inc., the developer of a breakthrough technology to extract oil from algae and an emerging leader in the global algae oil services industry, identified serious dislocations caused by single-crop fuel policies and pointed to algae as a way to help make crops and waste more sustainable, in a presentation at the 6th Annual Meeting of the WRA Biofuels 2011 Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
In his presentation "Solving the Food vs. Fuel Issue," OriginOil CEO Riggs Eckelberry asked how it was that Brazil will import one billion liters of ethanol this year, after a bad sugar crop. "This wasn't supposed to happen," he said. "Given continued demand for both fuel and food, is this seesaw likely to stop?"
Eckelberry concluded, "In this zero-sum game, there can be only one winner. Food will always win, since biofuels can be replaced by fossil fuels."
He continued, "Instead of waiting for algae to take over from existing biofuels, we should use it now to diversify feedstocks and increase their fuel value. Biofuels from algae can have a relatively high fuel efficiency ratio."
Eckelberry cited examples of combining high-volume forestry waste products with high energy-value algae, or using algae to reduce the carbon footprint of ethanol plants – eventually replacing wheat or corn altogether. (Manildra, Australia's largest ethanol producer, has announced plans to diversify into algae.)
Additionally, Eckelberry called for support of the U.S. Department of Energy's diversification initiative, so that refiners in a given region could mix and match sources and avoid feedstock dislocations.
OriginOil was an algae industry representative at the Department of Energy's Biomass Preconversion and Densification Workshop held on August 23 and 24, 2011, at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In his recent article for Algae Industry Magazine, "It's Time to Set Uniform Algae Feedstock Standards", Eckelberry provided a link to presentations from the workshop and the subsequent webinar.