As Biofuels Lose Some Luster, Sapphire Goes Long with Sinopec Deal

In a ceremony held Thursday in Beijing, San Diego’s Sapphire Energy and Sinopec, China’s state-owned oil and gas conglomerate, agreed to work together to develop and produce algae-based biofuels in China.

“The goal is to build a large demonstration facility here with Sinopec,” Sapphire spokesman Tim Zenk said last night from Beijing in a phone call that preceded the ceremony. “We believe this will help us continue to validate what we have accomplished in New Mexico.”

Sapphire said last year that it was beginning year-round production of algae-based “green crude” at its 300-acre commercial algae farm and bio-refinery near Columbus, NM. Establishing a similar plant in China should enable the company to substantially lower its production costs.

Sapphire-Energy Algal Biorefinery near Columbus NM It might even prove crucial for Sapphire, as the biofuels industry has lost some luster in recent years; fracking has substantially lowered the cost of conventional petroleum production in the United States, where government policies also are buffeted by contrary energy interests.

Sapphire Energy and Sinopec were among six new U.S.-China partners formally selected for a flagship EcoPartnerships Program during a signing ceremony in China’s Hall of the People in Beijing. The program is intended to promote cooperation between U.S. and Chinese interests on clean energy, climate change, and environmental protection.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting with Chinese leaders as part of a … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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One response to “As Biofuels Lose Luster, Sapphire Goes Long with Sinopec Deal”

  1. Ray Del Colle says:

    “Carbon dioxide has increased about 40 percent in the atmosphere since the 1750s, due to pollution from dirty energy like coal, oil, and gas. The result is a warming climate.”