Seattle Business: Stirring Up Scum
Published: MARCH 2, 2010
Seattle-based Blue Marble Energy was founded in 2005 by CEO Kelly Ogilvie and Chief Scientific Officer James Stephens to produce an eco-friendly biofuel from algae and other biomass. But in recent years, driven by the expense of production and the lack of a sustainable market, the company has altered its focus to manufacturing biochemicals and flavorings.
“Currently, most artificial flavorings come from petroleum,” says Ogilvie. “By switching to algae derivatives, we can create a carbon-neutral source that is more easily renewable.”
The company now produces carbon-neutral renewable chemicals from biomaterials by fermenting feedstock with their AGATE (Acid, Gas, and Ammonia Targeted Extraction) system. With the support of $1 million in financing from private equity by investor Rajiv Shah, a soft drink bottler and distributor based in Nairobi, Kenya, Blue Marble currently produces 1 ton of esters (chemicals used in plastics, food flavoring, fragrance and adhesives) per day from more than 10,000 pounds of pollution-fueled algae removed from Puget Sound.