Development of a sustainable micro-algal biofuels industry requires abundant, inexpensive, and preferably non-potable water in very close proximity to sunny, flat, inexpensive land. Just such an opportunity exists in oil & gas fields where for each barrel of oil many barrels of water are also generated in the process of pumping out oil bearing formations.

This “produced water” is typically re-injected into deep disposal wells and represents the largest single cost of operating an oil & gas well. Eldorado Biofuels has succeeded in cultivating algae in produced water and in cleansing the water of toxins – a success that will have loud repercussions in the coming years.

The sheer volume of produced water available compensates for evaporative and photosynthetic loss, making viable the most cost-effective infrastructure for algae cultivation: open ponds. Evaporative loss serves a secondary function of disposing of the produced water, which can provide a positive cash flow for algae farms.

Additional synergies exist in the Permian Basins region of S.E. New Mexico and W. Texas: inexpensive nutrients, skilled workforce, and an existing infrastructure for delivering inputs and finished products to market that makes it the logical place to develop a commercial algal biofuels industry.

Our experience in developing an algal biofuels pilot facility in Jal, New Mexico, including site selection, facility design, permitting, finance, construction, algal cultivation and marketing will be condensed and presented.