Algae biofuel was a bubble

algae biofuel photo
Solray algae to biofuels opening 2009 Photo by siftnz

Algae biofuel development crashed and burned in a spectacular manner, taking hundreds of millions, maybe billions in VC money with it. In 2009, the buzz was algae biofuel could scale, and be produced at commercial-scale for a reasonable price. It couldn’t be.

There are many problems with algae biofuel. It’s expensive to do, requires large amounts of water, and is often manufactured in areas that don’t have much water, like deserts, because the process also needs lots of sun.

There was carnage. Many companies closed or went bankrupt. The surviving companies are focusing on using algae byproducts for cosmetics, nutraceuticals, specialty oils, and more. But not for mass production of fuel.

There is incredible potential for algae technology in drug discovery and production, specialty oils and a range of chemicals. Will we be running commercial engines on algae-derived fuels in the 21st century?


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