Sapphire Energy starts up algae plant in New Mexico

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By Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — Sapphire Energy says operations are now under way at its algae biomass plant in southern New Mexico.
The California-based company made the announcement Monday. Construction on the $135 million demonstration plant in Columbus began in 2011, and the first batch of algae was harvested in June.
Sapphire officials say they have harvested a total of 81 tons of algae biomass.
Sapphire’s plant will be capable of producing 100 barrels of crude algal oil per day by the end of 2014. The plant will eventually consist of about 300 acres of cultivation ponds and processing areas.
The project was funded with $85 million in private investment backed by a federal loan guarantee and a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Sapphire officials say the amount of biomass produced so far has exceeded their initial projections.