New Era

By Ron Kotrba | April 19, 2011

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Algae Technology & Business. For years now, specifically in publications such as Biodiesel Magazine, which I have been a part of for more than six years as a writer, senior writer and lead editor, anything related to algae has been hot and highly read on the websites. Interest in algae has not subsided. In fact, it has increased during the past several years.

Our coverage of the developing world of algae is not exclusive to fuels, a sector garnering a lot of attention because of the profound need for energy independence and security, not to mention the environmental position that the Earth, and by extension all of our lives, would benefit from transition to a renewable, sustainable economy instead of one built on petroleum. But fuels are a high-volume, low-margined business, and in order for the algae industry to mature to a point where it can profitably sustain an algal fuels economy, a series of developments—a growth process or maturation, if you will—must first be accomplished.

Interestingly, the petroleum industry makes its money on oil exploration and recovery, and crude oil is only refined into fuels and chemicals so that oil companies can market their main money maker, crude oil, to end users. Consumers consume the refined products, driving the need for more exploration and recovery. With finite oil reserves on the planet, this is clearly not a sustainable model—but it does represent industry maturity.

Thus, much algae work focuses on scale-up so that, one day, the industry can get to the point of development where refining algae into animal feed, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products, intermediate and end-product chemicals and, yes, fuels, is simply a way to market algae to consumers. We are not there yet, but with the help of companies and organizations such as those you’ll come across in this issue, one day we will.

Author: Ron Kotrba
Editor, Algae Technology & Business