Sunthenoil was launched in July 2007 with a mission to develop a significant biofuels business.  Looking at the range of alternative energies, Sunthenoil decided early on to focus on the transportation fuel sector as the main theater of competition, and to use biofuels as the primary product.

 

With the appropriate biofuel, we could carve out a significant share of the transportation fuel sector; it was very important, therefore, to identify the appropriate biofuel.  From the start, it was recognized that a biofuel plan that used a food grade material as the feedstock was ill-fated.  This is on the belief that global food demand will actually outpace fuel demand and therefore in the battle of food vs. fuel, food will win.  The non-food conclusion quickly eliminates first generation corn or soy products as feedstock material.  

 

Biofuels can be divided into two big categories: ethanol and biodiesel.  Ethanol is an alcohol which can be blended with gasoline.  Biodiesel is oil that can be blended with petroleum diesel or used in 100 percent concentrations for diesel engines.

 

First generation ethanol production needs a high starch or sugar plant to be competitive.  Sugar cane makes an ideal source of raw material because it avoids an otherwise necessary step in converting starch to sugars before fermentation.  Brazil has a very well developed national sugar and ethanol program and has the ability to dominate world trade of ethanol in the near term.  Second generation ethanol technologies – such as “cellulosic ethanol” which attempt to break down the green or fibrous portion of the corn or other plant – may hold promise, but for the time being have to undergo a very expensive R&D phase in order to prove commerciality.  For those and other reasons, Sunthenoil chose to focus on the oil based biofuels which will target the diesel fuel markets.  (For a more in-depth look at Brazilian ethanol, see World Energy magazine, Brazil in the Global Renewable Energy Context, Keith Meyer, Vol. 11 No. 1, 2008, page 110).

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For biodiesel, the leading contenders for non-food grade feedstock are jatropha and algae.  Jatropha is an oil seed bearing tree which grows well in a variety of tropical and subtropical conditions, but needs rainfall and fertile soil to produce appreciable quantities of oil.  Further, it needs a low cost agrarian workforce to be commercially competitive.  Jatropha will do well in central Africa and similarly situated ares.  (For a more detailed discussion of Jatropha, see World Energy magazine, Jatropha: Boon or Bridge?, Keith Meyer, Vol. 11 No. 2, 2008, page 62).

 

Algae, often a nuisance organism, ironically has the potential to supply our oil needs more dramatically than any other feedstock.  Algae can be grown in the U.S. climate on non-agricultural land, can capture carbon dioxide from the air, and can be harvested without the intense use of water, fertilizer, or heavy machinery.   The trick with algae is getting it to produce commercial quantities of oil at a commercially attractive price.

 

In 2008, Sunthenoil identified a technology which harnesses the oil productive potential of algae and produces algae oil suitable for conversion to biodiesel at a commercially attractive price.  The technology selected has been undergoing a pilot scale testing program for about two years and is now ready to be commercialized.  The algae-to-oil technology was developed by Global Renewable Energy Systems and licensed for commercialization to its majority owned subsidiary, SunEco Energy Inc.  Sunthenoil subsequently has entered into agreement with SunEco to develop a joint venture with SunEco to sublicense the technology for development in the U.S. Gulf Coast, Jamaica and Mexico under a performance based arrangement.

 

Sunthenoil looks forward to a significant development in 2010 which will commercialize algae oil production in the U.S. gulf coast and other areas of interest.

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