WASHINGTON, D.C. — In California, Sapphire Energy announced it has paid off the loan guarantee awarded to the company by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Dec. 2009, the company was awarded a $54.5 million loan guarantee through the Biorefinery Assistance Program, administered by the USDA Rural Development-Cooperative Service, to build a fully integrated, algae-to-crude oil commercial demonstration facility in Columbus, New Mexico.
Reached by telephone, Sapphire’s VP for Corporate Affairs, Tim Zenk, confirmed that the company raised an additional round of equity from its current investment group to pay off the loan. “It just makes sense to pay it off, if you have the ability to do so, and save on the interest and debt expense,” he commented. The project continues on track towards producing 100 barrels of crude oil per day in 2015, and at commercial-scale production in 2018.
Key to reaching the company’s goals is the project with Linde to develop, at scale, a new industrial-scale conversion technology needed to upgrade algae biomass into crude oil. Linde has made the decision to invest the engineering time, and in return the two companies will co-market the new technology globally, as well as employing it at the Green Crude Farm.