Sapphire Energy has been something of a mystery in the algae-fuel world. There are over 50 companies now touting that they will convert pond scum into liquid fuel (up from around four companies in 2006). Most of them, however, can't get funding and many seem to be plying "me too" ideas borrowed from early algae advocates like GreenFuel Technologies.

So when Sapphire announced it had landed over $100 million in funding from, among others, Cascade Investment (the venture firm founded by Bill Gates) it drew attention. Only a few other algae companies – GreenFuel, Solazyme – have raised the tens of millions needed to move toward prototype production. The attention further magnified the fact that Sapphire has been somewhat tight lipped on its technology.

Last week, Tim Zenk, vice president of corporate affairs for the company, filled in some of the details. I've also included comment and speculation from some competitors. As a prelude, I'd like to point out that algae companies like to snipe at each other, similar to the way CIGS companies or Intel and AMD like to point out each others' flaws. It will make a algae conference taking place next month in Seattle next month interesting.

Get the rest of the story at Green Light