30 May 2008

Homemade Crude Oil? Sapphire Energy Says They've Done It

Sapphire Energy, a San Diego based start up, issued a blockbuster press release the other day. The suits at Big Oil must have been ordering doubles at their three martini lunches after learning someone has produced renewable 91 octane gasoline that conforms to ASTM certification.

It's called Green Crude Production, and Sapphire says their "scientists have built a platform that uses sunlight, CO2, photosynthetic microorganisms and non-arable land to produce carbon-neutral alternatives to petrochemical-based processes and products. First up: renewable gasoline."

I don't know if I believe it or not, and it won't slow global warming, but with over $200 billion a year leaving the country to purchase foreign oil, homemade crude could certainly have a positive impact on our economy.

Below is the full text of the press release:

Sapphire Energy unveils world’s first renewable gasoline

Sonoma, California – May 28, 2008 – Sapphire Energy announced today they have produced renewable 91 octane gasoline that conforms to ASTM certification, made from a breakthrough process that produces crude oil directly from sunlight, CO2 and photosynthetic microorganisms, beginning with algae.

“Sapphire’s goal is to be the world’s leading producer of renewable petrochemical products,” said CEO and co-founder Jason Pyle, speaking from the influential Simmons Alternative Energy Conference. “Our goal is to produce a renewable fuel without the downsides of current biofuel approaches.

“Sapphire Energy was founded on the belief that the only way to cure our dependence on foreign oil and end our flirtation with ethanol and biodiesel is through radical new thinking and a commitment to new technologies.”

The end result — high-value hydrocarbons chemically identical to those in gasoline — will be entirely compatible with the current energy infrastructure from cars to refineries and pipelines.

Not biodiesel, not ethanol. And no crops or farm land required.

The Sapphire platform offers vast advantages – scientific, economic and social – over traditional biofuel approaches.

Company scientists have built a platform that uses sunlight, CO2, photosynthetic microorganisms and non-arable land to produce carbon-neutral alternatives to petrochemical-based processes and products. First up: renewable gasoline. Critically important, in light of recent studies that prove the inefficiencies and costs of crop-based biofuels, there is no ‘food vs. fuel’ tradeoff. The process is not dependent on food crops or valuable farmland, and is highly water efficient. “It’s hard not to get excited about algae’s potential,” said Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy “Its basic requirements are few: CO2, sun, and water. Algae can flourish in non-arable land or in dirty water, and when it does flourish, its potential oil yield per acre is unmatched by any other terrestrial feedstock.”

Scalability key to success

Sapphire’s scalable production facilities can grow easily and economically because production is modular, transportable, and fueled by sunlight – not constrained by land, crops, or other natural resources.

“Any company or fuel that hopes to solve the biofuel conundrum must be economically scalable – and that requires conforming to the existing refining distribution and fleet infrastructure,” said Brian Goodall, Sapphire’s new vice president of downstream technology. Goodall led the team responsible for the highly visible, first-ever Virgin Atlantic “green” 747 flight earlier this year. In addition to a three-decade career in the petrochemical industry, he is a corporate inductee at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Domestic production a matter of national security, economic growth

A new domestic energy platform based on sunlight and CO2 has the economic potential to herald a tectonic market shift as well as make the country more secure. Last year, the nation imported over $200 billion of foreign oil, and, with oil prices reaching record heights every week, that number is expected to increase dramatically. Protecting these strategic overseas interests is an increasingly expensive proposition.

“It is imperative, both economically and for national security reasons, that American companies figure out ways to produce oil here at home,” said Sapphire co-founder Kristina Burow of ARCH Venture Partners, the company’s founding investor. “Imagine if even a portion of the $200 billion we spend on foreign crude stayed here: The payoff in new jobs, and domestic economic growth would be huge.”

Developments require new industrial category: Green Crude Production

In fact, Sapphire’s processes and science are so radical, the company is at the forefront of an entirely new industrial category called ‘Green Crude Production.’ Products and processes in this category differ significantly from other forms of biofuel because they are made solely from photosynthetic microorganisms, sunlight and CO2; do not result in biodiesel or ethanol; enhance and replace petroleum-based products; are carbon neutral and renewable; and don’t require any food crop or agricultural land.

The final products meet ASTM standards and are completely compatible with the existing petroleum infrastructure, from refinement through distribution and the retail supply chain.

Leadership team stars in their fields

Sapphire’s founders and leadership team includes top scientists in the fields of petro chemistry, biotechnology, algal production, plant genomics, and biogenetics. ARCH Venture Partners, with a long history of taking innovative life-science technologies to market, is the founding investor. ARCH is joined by the Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest biomedical research charity, and Venrock, one of the oldest and most respected venture capital firms in the country. The strength of the syndicate is unparalleled: between ARCH and Venrock, they have launched well over 500 companies. Sapphire is also collaborating with the leading scientists and organizations in the field including the DOE’s Joint Genome Project; University of California, San Diego; The Scripps Research Institute; and the University of Tulsa.

“Sapphire’s interdisciplinary team hit milestones within three months that everyone thought were impossible,” said ARCH managing director Robert Nelsen.

“We realized at that point we could change the world, so we sat them down and told them, ‘the checkbook is completely open; tell us what you need’.”

“When the Wellcome Trust made the decision to invest in Sapphire, we evaluated the energy landscape to find a solution with the potential to realistically address the world’s current challenges in energy production,” said Danny Truell, Wellcome’s chief investment officer.

About Sapphire Energy

Sapphire Energy was founded to address the overwhelming inadequacies of current biofuel approaches and the profound costs of American dependence on foreign oil. The company has built a revolutionary platform using sunlight, CO2 and microorganisms such as algae to produce renewable, 91 octane gasoline that meets ASTM standards; it is not ethanol and not biodiesel. Sapphire is led by an interdisciplinary team of entrepreneurs and experts in cell biology, plant genomics and algal production, as well as investors with long histories of taking innovative technology to market, including co-founder ARCH Venture Partners, along with the Wellcome Trust and Venrock. Sapphire’s scientific supporters include Scripps Research Institute; University of California, San Diego; the University of Tulsa, and the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Project. The company is located in San Diego. For more information, visit www.sapphireenergy.com and www.greencrudeproduction.com.

About ARCH Venture Partners

ARCH Venture Partners is a premier provider of seed and early stage capital for technology firms, with a special competence in co-founding and building technology firms from startup. ARCH invests primarily in companies co-founded with leading scientists and entrepreneurs, concentrating in innovations in life sciences, physical sciences, and information technology. ARCH enjoys special recognition as a leader in the successful commercialization of technologies developed at academic research institutions and national laboratories. The company manages seven funds totaling over $1.5 billion and has invested in the earliest venture capital rounds for more than 120 companies over 22 years. Portfolio companies where ARCH was a co-founding or early investor include Illumina, Aviron, Impinj, Xenoport, Alnylam, Ikaria, Microoptical Devices, New Era of Networks, Netbot, Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Adolor, Nanosys, Caliper Life Sciences, Ahura, Xtera, Array Biopharma, Everyday Learning Corporation, Nanophase Technologies, and deCode Genetics, among others.

About The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £650 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

About Venrock

Venrock is a premier venture capital firm with offices in Menlo Park, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Israel. Originally established as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family, Venrock continues a seven-decade tradition of partnering with entrepreneurs to establish successful, enduring companies. Having invested $1.9 billion in 405 companies resulting in over 120 IPOs over the past 39 years, Venrock’s investment returns place it among the top tier venture capital firms that have achieved consistently superior performance. With a primary focus on technology, healthcare, and energy, portfolio companies have included Adnexus Therapeutics, Apple Computer, Centocor, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, Gilead Sciences, Idec Pharmaceuticals, Illumina, Intel, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, StrataCom, and Vontu.

29 May 2008

Regarding Rulers Throughout History

There's one thing you can count on!

21 May 2008

One Plant Can Save Us All

There is a lot of talk on teevee lately about "ending our dependence on foreign oil." Foreign oil. What they're really saying is: "Let's drill for oil off the coasts, in the Alaskan wilderness, and in your backyard if if there's any there."

The problem is not foreign oil, it's oil period! The government, of course, won't acknowledge that. Not while the corporations who profit from oil hold the reins of power.

17 May 2008

Corporate Drug Pushers

Might as well call 'em exactly what they are.

Americans spend more on medicines (drugs) than do all the people of:
Great Britain
New Zealand

100,000 Americans die every year from their prescription drugs - that they took just as the doctor directed. This isn't when a doctor or a pharmacist made a mistake or the patient accidentally took too much. This is when everything supposedly went right.

What the fuck??? Are so many of us that sick? Of course not.
So why do Americans take more drugs than everyone else?

It's simple - drug companies aren't allowed to advertise (lie) on television in other countries.

Journalist Melody Petersen's book OUR DAILY MEDS, makes a solid case that America has become the world's greatest medicine show. The full title of her book is:

She was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers. Here's the video and transcript.

09 May 2008

Congress Scrutinizes Drug Dealers' Advertising

Yesterday a house subcommittee held a hearing on big pharma's use of misleading and deceptive tactics in advertisements for their drugs.
"The pharmaceutical industry insists that DTC ads are mainly an educational endeavor designed to educate consumers about new products."
from sootoday

Educate consumers my ass! Anyone who believes that disingenuous tripe should contact me about buying some genuine Elvis fingernail clippings. I have an unlimited supply.

01 May 2008

George Carlin & Bill Hicks

George Carlin gets relevant.

Bill Hicks was saying it 20 years ago.

Tell Ashcroft, Tenet & Yoo to Show Up

So far, John Conyers has no takers.

The powerful and persistent Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has invited a number of the leading figures in the Bush torture scandals -- John Ashcroft, George Tenet, John Yoo, Douglas Feith and others -- to appear at a crucial hearing on May 6th.

As of yet, not a single one of them has agreed to show up. In fact, John Yoo and John Ashcroft -- central figures in the Bush strategy for defending torture -- have already refused.

The recent revelations about the Bush administration confirm our worst fears about subversion of the Constitution and betrayals of the rule of law by top government officials -- that they met regularly and approved the CIA’s use of “combined” “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

We must get to the bottom of these allegations, and now we need your help. We’re flooding Chairman Conyers and the whole House Judiciary Committee with “Citizens’ Subpoenas.”

Let Chairman Conyers and the Judiciary Committee know you want them to go all the way by issuing real subpoenas, legally compelling Bush’s torture team to show up.

Stop the Stonewalling: Send your own “Citizens’ Subpoena” now.

The Committee’s May 6th hearing is the right forum for getting clear answers to questions such as what role high government officials played in authorizing torture and bullying through a policy that has disgraced our country. But, we won’t get those answers if the people with the information refuse to show up.

The House Judiciary Committee needs to get to the bottom of which officials were involved in ordering or authorizing torture -- and what laws were broken. Did high government officials violate the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act, or federal criminal assault laws?

Take Action: Send your own “Citizens’ Subpoena” now and demand that Yoo, Ashcroft and others testify about their role in top-down torture.

Days after President Bush acknowledged that he knew about and approved of high-level White House torture talks, ACLU members generated over 100,000 letters to Congress urging that those who authorized and condoned torture be held accountable.

That’s exactly what John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee are trying to do. In fact, John Conyers has already threatened to serve subpoenas on Chief of Staff to the Vice President David Addington, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, if they don't agree to testify. But, standing up the White House isn’t easy. The more Citizens’ Subpoenas we can generate, the more we can strengthen the hand of Chariman Conyers and other defenders of freedom in Congress.


Caroline Fredrickson, ACLU
Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

The Calendar Might Say It's Spring, But ...

Over an hour past sunrise this morning, there was frost on my car.

[click pic for full size]

This just isn't right!