A biofuels project on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in Southwest Colorado aimed at turning carbon-dioxide-hungry algae into vegetable oil for conversion into biodiesel caught the attention of the New York Times Sunday.
“It’s a marriage of an older way of thinking into a modern time,” Southern Ute chairman Matthew J. Box told the Times.
The article, which succinctly hit the highlights of reporting by the Durango Herald and other media over the last several months, details the investment-savvy Southern Ute partnership with Solix Biofuels, a startup founded by Colorado State professor Bryan Willson. The Utes chipped in more than $20 million and the land for the project.
Willson’s strain of algae is growing in tanks situated next to natural gas processing plant. It reduces emissions while providing another source of energy, but creating a commercial market for the resulting biodiesel is still a work in process – one heavy hitters like Exxon are getting in on to the tune of $600 million.
Clearly, though, the race is on in the world of algae-biodiesel R&D, and the Southern Utes appear to be out ahead of the pack.