Washington, DC – June 12, 2008 – Jason Pyle, CEO of Sapphire Energy, today testified before the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that the biofuel debate around ‘food versus fuel’ can be effectively solved if Congress adopts standards that encourage the growth and development of all new alternative energy technologies. Current renewable fuel standards are ‘technology specific’, and provide incentives to only certain categories of alternative biofuels, such as corn for ethanol or soybeans for biodiesel. Pyle urged adoption of a ‘technology neutral’ stance in new regulation and legislation.
“The way out of the ‘food versus fuel’ debate is to start a dialogue about how to support truly sustainable alternative fuel sources,” said Pyle.
“A growing, competitive market is the best solution to separate winners from losers in the critical quest to find new forms of alternative fuel. A subsidy system should support a constantly changing landscape of fuels and fuel technologies.
“New technologies will allow us to transcend this Pyrrhic choice between food and energy.”
The world’s first renewable gasoline
Sapphire Energy announced last month it has developed the world’s first completely renewable gasoline made from sunlight, CO2, and photosynthetic microorganisms such as algae. The end result — high-value hydrocarbons chemically identical to those in gasoline — are entirely compatible with the current energy infrastructure, from cars to refineries and pipelines.
“Our goal is to produce a renewable fuel without the downsides of current biofuel approaches,” said Pyle.
Not biodiesel, not ethanol. And no crops or farm land required.
The Sapphire platform offers vast advantages – scientific, economic and social – over traditional biofuel approaches. As Pyle emphasized during today’s hearing, Sapphire’s technology requires no ‘food vs. fuel’ tradeoff. The process is not dependent on food crops or valuable farmland, and is highly water efficient.
Pyle noted that when Congress first adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, it wisely recognized that neither biodiesel nor ethanol would be the final solution. It created the program as a bridge to a new generation of fuels, and established a system of incentives to create a marketplace for new technologies. Congress’ task now is to determine whether these mechanisms will support the development of fuels that give America true energy independence and don’t impact agriculture and the global supply of food.
“The wave of the future is in fuel technologies that don’t compete with farmland,” he said. “And that will require the full support of incentives that are neutral and fair.”
About Sapphire Energy
Sapphire Energy was founded to address the overwhelming inadequacies of current biofuel approaches and the profound costs of American dependence on foreign oil.
The company has built a revolutionary platform using sunlight, CO2 and microorganisms such as algae to produce renewable, 91 octane gasoline that meets ASTM standards; it is not ethanol and not biodiesel.
Sapphire is led by an interdisciplinary team of entrepreneurs and experts in cell biology, plant genomics and algal production, as well as investors with long histories of taking innovative technology to market, including co-founder ARCH Venture Partners, along with the Wellcome Trust and Venrock.
Sapphire’s scientific supporters include The Scripps Research Institute; University of California, San Diego; the University of Tulsa, and the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Project. The company is located in San Diego.
Jason Pyle, MD, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Pyle was formerly Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Epoc, Inc., a privately held medical engineering company.
Dr. Pyle holds an appointment as adjunct professor of bioengineering at Vanderbilt University where he has worked to develop cross-disciplinary programs of biological and engineering research.
As the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Pria Diagnostics, Dr. Pyle was named Innovator of the Year (2006) by Frost and Sullivan.
Dr. Pyle holds numerous pending and issued patents in the engineering and biological sciences and has worked in diverse cross-discipline areas such as nanofabrication, optical engineering, and structural biology.
In addition to his broad technical abilities, Dr. Pyle has established numerous corporate partnerships between small technical companies and some of the world’s largest corporations.
He has directly supervised and coordinated both business development and operational activities within large co-development partnerships.
Dr. Pyle has worked in finance, technical and manufacturing transactions in Singapore, Japan, and China.
His post-doctoral research focused on the large-scale expression and control of neural proteins.
He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Physiology and an M.D. from Stanford University. He received degrees in optical engineering and physics from the University of Arizona.
Sapphire Energy’s unmatched scientific team is backed by an investment syndicate led by co-founding venture capital firm ARCH Venture Partners, and including The Wellcome Trust and Venrock, all with successful track records in building some of the world’s leading companies.
ARCH Venture Partners
ARCH Venture Partners is a premier provider of seed and early stage capital for technology firms, with a special competence in co-founding and building technology firms from startup. ARCH invests primarily in companies co-founded with leading scientists and entrepreneurs, concentrating in innovations in life sciences, physical sciences, and information technology. ARCH enjoys special recognition as a leader in the successful commercialization of technologies developed at academic research institutions and national laboratories. The company manages seven funds totaling over $1.5 billion and has invested in the earliest venture capital rounds for more than 120 companies over 22 years. Portfolio companies where ARCH was a co-founding or early investor include Illumina, Aviron, Impinj, Xenoport, Alnylam, Ikaria, Microoptical Devices, New Era of Networks, Netbot, Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Adolor, Nanosys, Caliper Life Sciences, Ahura, Xtera, Array Biopharma, Everyday Learning Corporation, Nanophase Technologies, and deCode Genetics, among others.
The Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is the most diverse biomedical research charity in the world, spending around £650 million every year both in the UK and internationally to support and promote research that will improve the health of humans and animals. The Wellcome Trust funding supports work ranging from basic science to medical history, from projects delivering direct clinical benefits through to studies of bioethical issues.
The Wellcome Trust has been an independent charity for 70 years, during which time they have always supported excellent research, recognizing the need to provide long-term support, since most biomedical discoveries are incremental, building on past achievements. The work that they have funded has brought great benefits to human and animal health worldwide.
The mission of The Wellcome Trust is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health. Wellcome Trust funding has supported a number of major successes including: a substantial contribution to the sequencing of the human genome, development of the antimalarial drug artemisinin, pioneering cognitive behavioral therapies for psychological disorders, establishing UK Biobank, and opening Wellcome Collection, a new £30 million cultural venue in central London that explores the relationship between medicine, life and art. The Wellcome Trust is committed to engaging the public with science and research and funds a range of educational programs and exhibitions.
Venrock is a premier venture capital firm with offices in Menlo Park, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Israel. Originally established as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family, Venrock continues a seven-decade tradition of partnering with entrepreneurs to establish successful, enduring companies. Having invested $1.9 billion in 405 companies resulting in over 120 IPOs over the past 39 years, Venrock’s investment returns place it among the top tier venture capital firms that have achieved consistently superior performance. With a primary focus on technology, healthcare, and energy, portfolio companies have included Adnexus Therapeutics, Apple Computer, Centocor, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, Gilead Sciences, Idec Pharmaceuticals, Illumina, Intel, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, StrataCom, and Vontu.
For more information, visit www.sapphireenergy.com and www.greencrudeproduction.com.
June 12, 2008