BioFuels: now what?

Biofuels Panel, GoingGreen, Davis, CA:Robert Walsh, President LS9Jonathan Wolfson, President & CEO, SolazymeJohn Melo, CEO, Amyris BiotechnologiesSteven Perricone, CEO & Co-Founder, BioFuelBoxModerator: where are we in the biofuels revolution?RW: We are 3-5 years from going to market.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

Biofuels Panel, GoingGreen, Davis, CA: Robert Walsh, President LS9 Jonathan Wolfson, President & CEO, Solazyme John Melo, CEO, Amyris Biotechnologies Steven Perricone, CEO & Co-Founder, BioFuelBox

Moderator: where are we in the biofuels revolution? RW: We are 3-5 years from going to market. We are working on industrial micro-organism process that produces a hydrocarbon product that will fit in the current infrastructure. JW: You may not have heard much about our company. We've been in a head-down mode, working on our technology. We also use micro-organisms to produce high value compounds. We are really scaling up. We can produce thousands of gallons of product today, hopefully hundreds of thousands of gallons in 2008. JM: I would the biofuel sector in the adolescence as a whole. We will be handing off our first market product to a large pharma later this year. That product is coping with malaria, but that research has led us into hydrocarbon fuels: jet, diesel and gasoline. Our focus on those is to scale up, with a plant going online next year. Our goal is a $45/barrel cost on a sustainable, unsubsidized basis. SP: The rise in interest in biofuel has led to formation of new companies and more investment to produce new technologies. We are working on producing biodiesel fuel from industrial waste materials. Waste to fuel is our formula. ----- Moderator: food versus fuel price to pay here? Are their limits to first generation fuel. JM: I'm been in Brazil recently. There are economic and environmental issues. The cane capacity of Brazil is huge, using only about 2% of the available land without cutting forest or jungle. Scale without negative impact on the world is the goal. RW: In the U.S. corn is not at a sustainable economic level to drive $45/barrel. They have to get more out of every acre, not more acres. JW: Biofuel is essentially converting the sun's energy into something that is useful as fuel. There are a lot of competing needs for corn and there are a lot of feedstock that can be produced here in U.S. ------ What do we see on horizon in next 3 years? SP: anything that contains lipids can be converted into biodiesel ------- JM: It's hard to predict where the economic markets are going to go. We coud see dropping of energy prices as more and more sources come online. The goodews we are seeing people in the U.S. noting there is an environmental interest here beyond the economic interest. ------ JW: we have to fit into the trillions of dollars worth of transportation infrastructure that exist around the world ------- RW: I personally don't like government mandates about what kind of products or technologies people should use. JM: the issue is toprotec new techs agsinst the potential downside...what happens when prices drops? We should shift behavior of consumers and let them pay the REAL price for energy. And biofuel should be incentivized for its lower carbon footprint. ------- Could U.S. become energy independent? JM: I think there is a real shot at hemisphere independence. What can our hemisphere do to change the global carbon footprint. JW: What can local, state and federal governments can do in the short term? Incentives for customers at the pump should be in place. SP: There is no single magic bullet, it will take a mix of new technologies. JW: Ethanol was developed over thousands of years to get people. It has a place right now [as a fuel] but nobody on this panel thinks it is the best answer. We shouldn't change cars to run on ethanol but develop biofuels to work in the cras on the road today. ------------ Will we see pipelines carrying ethanol? JM: No. We need more infrastructure. Los Angeles does not have enough storage tanks and loading docks right now. We should begin to see biofuels that are hudrocarbons to blend with fossil fuels. JW: We are going to have to accept new diesel and other cars that have a much better carbon footprint, like they have in Europe. We think there is room for a lot of micro-organicallhy produced jet fuels. JM: We have tested some of our biofuel in jets and it perfomred better than today's standard jet fuels...we think there is a twenty to thirty year wave for biofuels going forward.

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