The World Biofuels Markets Congress is to the biofuels market what the Oscars are to Hollywood. More than 4,500 “high caliber executives” and industry players from nearly 80 countries around the world have attended the conference to meet new customers and suppliers and to support innovation and competition within the biofuels industry.

The 2010 conference was recently held in Amsterdam March 15-17, comprised of 264 high-level speakers, 100 exhibition stands and more than 1,400 participants. The Algae Fuels Conference headlined the event, featuring presentations by big names like Shell’s joint venture Cellana, Dow Chemical, Algenol, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and many more.

OriginOil Inc. CEO Riggs Eckelberry was one of the participants, addressing attendees on the urgent harvesting challenge and the company’s position in bringing its algae-to-oil technology to market.

Eckelberry joined CEO of SBAE Industries Marc Van Aken in the last panel of the special Algae Fuels Conference, discussing “Harvesting, Dewatering and Extraction” – something the two executives call a major barrier to algae’s commercialization.

“Current approaches to algae extraction do a great job of precision extraction, but at an energy and capital cost that is unacceptable today even for specialty materials,” Eckelberry told attendees.

Eckelberry said that by mid-year he estimates that Origin Oil will launch a mobile algae extraction system dubbed ALGAEMAX™, which will be available for demonstration in the second half of the year. Eckelberry also highlighted current industry trends, many of which require high-capital investments, high energy usage, and include toxic chemicals.

“It’s clear that algae will be produced everywhere and not just in large central plants,” Eckelberry stated. “That means harvesting systems must be portable, inexpensive and energy-efficient. We need dramatic improvement in this most-vital area of large-scale algae-to-oil production.”

Eckelberry then contrasted current trends with OriginOil’s Single-Step Extraction approach that separates the oil and biomass without first dewatering, dramatically reducing the amount of energy needed, and gave a first-ever detailing of the company’s extraction energy estimates: nearly one-tenth the energy cost of conventional methods, with a proportional reduction in investment expense.

“Current approaches to algae extraction do a great job of precision extraction, but at an energy and capital cost that is unacceptable today even for specialty materials,” said Eckelberry. “Our process has shown an equally high level of extraction capability, with the energy and capital requirements that algae needs to fulfill its potential.”