GreenFuel Technologies, one of the earliest, best funded and most publicized algae companies, is shutting its doors, a victim of the credit crunch. "We are closing doors. We are a victim of the economy," said Duncan McIntyre at Polaris Venture Partners, which invested in Greenfuel. Although it has raised millions of dollars and landed a high profile deal with Auranta in Spain to erect test facilities, it could not get money to complete the project. In January, it laid off 19 people, or half of the staff.
The company has also been chronically saddled with delays and technical problems. The company's plan was to pump carbon dioxide from smokestacks into bioreactors – i.e., sealed plastic bags filled with algae and water. The algae would grow fat on the carbon dioxide and later be harvested by GreenFuel to be turned into oil for biodiesel. Protein and other matter from the algae would also be sold to pet food manufacturers.