Sapphire Energy, a San Diego-based producer of crude oil from algae, has entered into a strategic partnership with the Institute for Systems Biology to further the scientific research and development of algae biofuels, the company announced Thursday.
In a release, SG Biofuels said the partnership will focus on applying systems biology solutions to algae with the goal of significantly increasing oil yield and improving resistance to crop predators and environmental factors.
Sapphire produces algae crude oil, known as green crude, a renewable, low carbon fuel that can be refined using typical refinery configurations into Naphtha, diesel and jet fuel. The company recently began operating the first phase of its 300-acre commercial demonstration green crude farm, also known as an integrated algal bio-refinery, in New Mexico, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The green crude farm is expected to produce approximately 100 barrels of green crude per day, and be completed the end of 2014.
"Sapphire is dealing with one of the most complicated problems known to humans: how to make fuel from a renewable resource," said Nitin Baliga, director of integrative biology at ISB. "Together, we have complementary expertise that will allow us to understand, reverse engineer and rationally alter the gene networks for fuel production in algae."
Alex Aravanis, chief science officer at Sapphire Energy, said working with ISB to apply its systems biology approach to Sapphire's development, Sapphire will be able to more rapidly identify genes and regulatory pathways that can increase yield and move Sapphire toward its goal of making green crude a market-viable, crude oil alternative.
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