Since 2009, ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics have been partners in research and development of oil from algae to produce biofuels to replace traditional transportation fuels.

 

In 2017, ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics announced breakthrough research published in Nature Biotechnology that resulted in a modified algae strain that more than doubled oil content without significantly inhibiting growth, a key challenge along the path to commercial scalability.

 

In the California desert near the Salton Sea and the tiny town of Calipatria, an acre-size rectangular pond is filled with saltwater and algae. The pond is one of several at the site for the production of biofuel at scale.

 

“The goal is a sustainable, renewable biofuel that can be cost-competitive with pumping oil out of the ground, but can scale to levels that go far beyond demonstration levels, according to Oliver Fetzer, chief executive officer at Synthetic Genomics.

 

In 2017, the partners announced, after nine years of research, they had solved one key challenge for making biofuel from algae. By tweaking a particular gene in a certain species of algae, the algae produced twice as much fat as it would in the wild, but still grow as quickly as usual. That fat can be made into biofuel.

 

Scientists are continuing development of the basic biology to make algae even more productive. That effort is in parallel with solving engineering challenges to efficiently grow and harvest algae.

 

In the ponds, engineers are studying how to best move algae to expose it to the most sunlight and CO2, both of which it needs to grow. At first, the testing will be with natural strains of algae. Later, the testing will be with gene-edited algae. The partners need time to obtain acceptance by regulators and the public.

 

In seven years, 2025, and continued advancements regarding gene-editing and farming of algae, they estimate production of about 10,000 barrels of biofuels from algae per day. That’s a tiny amount compared to crude production.

 

“Ten thousand barrels a day would be world-scale for current biofuels,” says Vijay Swarup, vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “It is an important step, because we will learn about the engineering fundamentals tied with the biology fundamentals. The goal is hundreds of thousands of barrels a day. If we didn’t think this as scalable, reliable, affordable, and sustainable, we would not be working on it. We proceed only with scalable solutions. We are not interested in niche applications or additive applications. The goal is large scale.”

 

The algae would be grown on arid land that is not capable of growing food crops

The process uses saltwater to avoid burdening the local water supply

At some sites, including the test site near the Salton Sea, the algae farms may be able to use waste CO2.

 

Exxon’s continued investments in non-fossil-fuels is happening under a cloud of increasing attention–and major lawsuits–for how much the company knew about the climate... its product was causing.

 

Startup efforts by other companies attempting to make biofuels from algae have failed in the past, in part because they made rosy assumptions about oil prices.

 

Whereas a truck running on biofuel still has CO2eq emissions, those combustion emissions can be considered carbon neutral, because the algae absorb almost all of the CO2eq as it grows.

Upstream CO2eq: The CO2eq of upstream energy, likely from fossil sources for at least the next few decades, has to be counted. That CO2eq could equal at least 40% of the combustion CO2eq. That CO2eq would be from:

 

- Providing make-up seawater to maintain salinity

- Operating and maintaining the facilities

- Providing large quantities of fertilizer to grow algae

- Processing the algae oil into B100

- Transporting the B100 to users

 

NOTE: The CO2 of fossil fuels is from carbon that was buried many millions of years ago.

 

https://www.fastcompany.com/40539606/exxon-thinks-it-can-create-bio...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/replacing-gasoline-and-...

US BIOFUEL PRODUCTION BY 2040

 

Exxon-Mobil From Pond Algae

 

Table 1 shows Exxon-Mobil extrapolated to 1830.0 TBtu/y by 2040.

Most estimates for biofuel from pond algae are about 5000 gal/acre/y

By comparison, biofuel from soybean oil was about 76 gal/acre/y in 2017

 

Table 1

Production

Production

LHV

Area

Time

million gal/y

million barrel/d

TBtu/y

million acre

year

World crude oil

97.000

 

 

2018

US crude oil

11.000

 

 

2018

US gasoline*

142980.0

9.327

14881.0

29.900

2017

US diesel*

43848.0

2.860

5634.0

 

2017

US biodiesel, B100, traditional

1596.0

0.104

190.8

20.000

2017

Exxon-Mobil B100; algae

153.3

0.010

18.3

0.031

2025

Exxon-Mobil B100 x 10; algae

1533.0

0.100

183.0

0.307

2030

Exxon-Mobil B100 x 100; algae

15330.0

1.000

1830.0

3.070

2040

 

* US gasoline includes 14798 million gallon of ethanol, E100, which required 29.9 million acre in corn. US diesel includes 1596 million gallon of B100, which required 20.0 million acre in various crops, plus B100 from animal sources. Imports are excluded.

US Biodiesel Production From Traditional Sources

 

US production of biodiesel, B100, from all feedstock sources, increased 19.2% during the 2013 - 2017 period.

Extrapolating the same growth to 2030, B100 production would increase from 190.8 TBtu in 2017 to 323.2 TBtu in 2030.

US cropland for E100l from corn was 29.9 million acres

US cropland for B100 from various sources was about 10.857, soybean + 9.143, other = 20.0 million acres.

Increasing that B100 cropland area by about 323.2/190.8 = 69% by 2030 would be a major effort. See table 2.

https://www.agmrc.org/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-climate-cha...

 

Table 2

Production

Growth

TBtu

Area

US B100 Production

million gallons

%

 

million acre

2013

1339

 

 

2014

1271

 

 

2015

1268

 

 

2016

1569

 

 

2017

1596

19.2

190.8

20.0

2021

1902

19.2

 

 

2026

2268

19.2

 

 

2030

2702

19.2

323.2

33.9

Estimated Future US Biofuel Production

 

The estimated US biofuel production for 2030 and 2040 would be as shown in table 3.

B100 from traditional sources is assumed not to grow from 2030 to 2040, due to a lack of cropland.

 

Table 3/Biofuel production

 2030

Cropland/Pond area

2040

Cropland/Pond area

 

TBtu

million acre

TBtu

million acre

Exxon-Mobil, pond algae

 183.0

0.307

1830.0

3.070

B100, traditional sources

 323.2

33.900

323.2

33.900

Total

506.2

34.200

2153.2

36.970

APPENDIX 1

Vermont Energy Action Network, EAN, performs engineering analyses for Vermont RE entities and the Vermont Department of Public Service, DPS.

 

The VT Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, prepared by DPS, has a goal to have 90% of ALL primary energy, PE, from renewables by 2050, such as wind, solar, biomass, ethanol, E100, biofuel, B100, etc. EAN provided major input to the CEP. Table 4 is from tables in URL.

http://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/EAN-2050-Energy-Analysi...

 

Table 4

PE

 

CEP goals

EAN

Total

Transport

Thermal

B100

B100

Biomass

Biomass

Non-RE/RE

TBtu

TBtu

TBtu

TBtu

%

TBtu

%

%

2010

148.40

0.00

0.00

5.75

3.67

88/12

2020

136.62

1.50

0.00

1.50

1.10

8.66

6.34

80/20

2030

116.61

8.20

3.30

8.20

7.03

12.86

11.03

60/40

2040

93.32

14.61

6.61

21.22

22.74

15.70

16.82

32/68

2050

95.27

25.28

9.91

35.19

36.94

16.18

16.98

10/90

 

EAN Projected Biomass

 

- EAN estimated biomass at 16.98% of all VT PE in 2050 (table 4).

- EAN estimated the biomass harvest to be 16.18/5.75 = 2.81 times larger in 2050 than in 2010.

- EAN did not mention where the additional trees and other biomass would be sourced.

- EAN mentioned more wood pellet stoves. Would the pellets come from out-of-state? See table 4.

 http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wood-for-fuel-logging-i...

 

- VT annual wood harvest already is about 350,000 dry ton in excess of the US Forest Service recommended limit for removals, i.e., about 50% of the annual growth rate of above ground biomass.

- McNeil and Ryegate, old-technology wood-burning power plants, efficiency about 24%; new plants would be about 30%) use about 347,342 (in-state) + 371,691 (out-of-state) = 719,033 green ton/y.

- Those plants should be closed down to make the wood available for more efficient purposes. See URLs.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/is-burning-wood-co-2-ne...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-wood-harvesting...

 

EAN Projected B100

 

- EAN estimated B100 at 36.94% of all VT PE in 2050 (table 4).

- That likely assumes major breakthroughs in B100 production from pond algae, because, significant additional B100 could not possibly come from land-based crops.

- The CO2eq of upstream energy for make-up seawater to maintain salinity, for operating and maintaining the facilities, for large quantities of fertilizer to grow algae, for processing the oil into B100, likely from fossil sources for at least the next few decades, has to be counted. That CO2eq could equal at least 40% of the combustion CO2eq.

- The CO2eq of fossil fuels is from carbon that was buried many millions of years ago. See URL

- There is not enough land area in all of Vermont to produce 35.19TBtu/y of B100 from soybeans, and there is not enough sunshine to economically produce it from pond algae. See table 5

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/biofuels-from-pond-algae

 

Table 5/VT B100 in 2050

 

Soybean, gal/acre/y

76

Btu/gal, LHV

119550

Yield, Btu/acre/y

9085800

Tbtu from B100 in 2050

35.19

Soybean cropland, acres

3874177

 

EAN estimates appear to be extremely excessive, based on the small quantities of biofuel likely to be produced by 2030. See tables 1 and 2 in URL.

 

US population is about 325 million

VT population is about 0.62 million

 

EAN projected 1.50 TBtu in 2020. If scaled to US levels, US consumption would be 1.50 x 325/0.62 = 786 TBtu.

EAN projected 8.20 TBtu in 2030. If scaled to US levels, US consumption would be 8.20 x 325/0.062 = 4298 TBtu.

EAN projected 21.22 TBtu in 2040. If scaled to US levels, US consumption would be 21.22 x 325/0.62 = 11123 TBtu

There is no way the US could produce that much TBtu from land cropping, animal sources, and pond algae by 2030 or 2040. 

EAN projections for 2050 is even more excessive, as almost all of that biofuel would have to be from pond algae, i.e., it could not come from land crops due to a lack of cropland.

See table 3, 4 and 6 of URL.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/biofuels-from-pond-algae

 

Table6/Year

CEP projection

 Implied US consumption

Estimated US production

 

TBtu

TBtu

TBtu

2020

 1.50

786

 

2030

 8.20

4298

 506.2

2040

 21.22

11123

 2153.2

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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