Recap from the San Diego Entrepreneur Exchange March Event on Green Energy

With the recent concerns about the safety of nuclear power originated from the Japan earthquake and Tsunami, it should be beneficial for us to recap what we have learned at the latest SDEE conference two days before the natural disaster hit Japan.

Ron Pitt, CEO of EcoDog:
Solar energy is a great source of energy but it’s limited by the supply of silicon. Furthermore solar panels have a life of about 20 years, at which point they need to be replaced. It’s important that we take steps to alleviate our dependence on oil and deal with the current crisis, but it is also imperative that we employ forward thinking, and expand the time scale so our fix doesn’t last 20 years, or even 200 years but much longer.

Barry Toyonaga, CBO of Kent BioEnergy:
Algea is probably the most efficient way of removing waste material in waters and to entice nutrition to soil. Even the biomass after use has been shown for making bricks in a recent conference in Japan. It is important to use every aspect of our raw material, we must be so efficient to the point where no useless waste is generated by the end of our process.

Steve Mayfield, Director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, UCSD:
The energy generated from petroleum-derived fuels as well as chemicals are used for high efficiency production of food. The emission of CO2 peaked by many magnitudes in recent centuries and coincided with human population explosion. The fast depletion of oil will soon reduce humans’ abilities to produce food at such high efficiency, and unavoidably will lead to famine and population reduction. The recent unrest in Africa is not a fight for democracy but a fight for food (which we can’t agree).

The green industry is young and needs supporting roles even after high rollers like Sapphire Energy, a company spun out by Mayfield and recently received major equity investment from Monsanto, take all the spotlight. There are engineering work to be done to process the oil produced by algae, to manage production and transportation, etc.

Sandy Madigan, CEO of Strategic Enzyme Applications:
Lignin is a naturally present macromolecule in wood and other plants, it is very carbon rich and one of the few natural sources aromatic compounds can be derived from. If broken down effectively lignin can serve as an alternative source of carbon compounds, with the current source being petroleum. Furthermore, as a source of aromatics, it has the potential to provide an exact fuel replacement, as opposed to most current research looking for fuel alternatives.

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Thursday, March 17th, 2011 Allele Mail Bag, Open Forum

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