Green Crude: Fuel of the future?

Move over biodiesel and watch out ethanol, there's a new biofuel on the block. California-based Sapphire Energy has announced that it has created a process that nets ASTM certified 91-octane gasoline from little more than algae, sunlight and waste water.

While several other companies produce bio-fuel in a similar fashion, Sapphire's process is a unique technique that produces a uniform product that can be used in gasoline engines without any modifications. Sapphire stresses that their fuel is not ethanol or biodiesel.

According to EcoGeek.org, the company launched a year ago and set off to answer one nagging question: "Why is the biofuel industry spending so much time and energy to manufacture ethanol "” a fundamentally inferior fuel?"

Unlike the production of ethanol, Sapphire's production process doesn't use land for fuel crop instead of food crop and virtually eliminates any emissions in the creation process. The end product is a green liquid that is virtually identical to gasoline.

And just to silence any naysayers, Brian Goodall -- an employee of Sapphire Energy -- just completed a cross-Atlantic flight in a plane powered by the company's biofuel.

Analysts have been wary about the commercial future of 'Green Crude', but a couple of landmark deals could be changing that outlook. Sapphire just landed a $50 million backing from three venture capitalists and GreenFuel Technologies -- a similar company -- will be setting up a multi-million dollar facility in Europe.

With companies like General Motors investing millions in ethanol companies, we wonder how long it will take before automakers jump on the algae-derived gasoline bandwagon.