Sunrise Ridge Algae


Welcome to Sunrise Ridge Algae, Inc.

We are a private Texas corporation engaged in research, development and commercialization of aquatic biomass technology for reduction of water and greenhouse gas pollutants and production of renewable fuel feed stocks.

Sunrise Ridge has more than 5 years experience in algae and other next-generation biofuels systems, and operates a biomass farm and pilot scale conversion facilities near Katy, Texas.

Recent News

August 2010 

We have received two new reactor systems (one large batch and one continuous) and are completing the remainder of the system and controls.   The new reactors will provide substantially larger capacity to produce more than 1 bbl per week of bioleum, and to consume much of the biomass production from our farm operation.

The lemna operation at Katy, Texas has successfully expanded to more than 2 acres of production.  We continue to optimize automated harvesting and farm management approaches.

July 2010

We completed the DOE project.  The lifecycle analysis results showed that closed algae systems can provide effective carbon dioxide sequestration provided that fertilizer sources and integration with industrial operations are optimized.  Overall economics of the closed algae system are dependent on the cost of the containment systems, growth medium management facility and farm productivity.  Our assessment is that closed algae systems may require additional revenue streams (e.g. carbon credits) to achieve commerciality.

March 2010

We have begun cultivation of lemna at our Katy farm facililty.  Seeding and growth protocols have been established to encourage higher production yields.  Lemna offers substantially lower capital cost, albeit somewhat smaller areal yields, compared to closed algae systems.

January 2010

Sunrise Ridge Algae was awarded a $643K project supported by a grant from the US Department of Energy.  The project will complete technical, economic and lifecycle analysis of a carbon dioxide sequestration system based on the closed algae production system, tied with a cement plant stack source.


CTO Dr. Robert Weber published a commentary regarding yields and energy balances in reference to research published in the American Chemical Society Energy and Fuels journal.

Sunrise Ridge Algae announced completion of production and testing of 1 liter sample of algae-derived bio-crude, which it calls "bioleum."   The bioleum product appears to be suitable for refining in a complex petroleum refinery.  Notably, the material has a high heating value (near diesel), low sulfur (0.22%) and very low phosphorus (<2 ppm). The company continued to research optimal operating conditions to reduce the level of oxygen and nitrogen heteroatoms. 

Sunrise Ridge arranged for a second algae production facility near Katy, Texas.  The 2 acre facility will test alternate species and growing/harvesting techniques.

Sunrise Ridge Algae was awarded a sub-contract to provide commercialization inputs to a DARPA algae consortium, and continued to provide research and development consulting expertise to private algae clients.  The Company has unique capability and expertise, at the intersection of algae processes and petroleum fuels, that provide superior value to our customers.

CEO Norman Whitton was selected as Co-Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership's Energy Collaborative Task Force focused on biofuels.  The group focuses on attracting investments in biofuels, to Texas and the Houston region.


Sunrise Ridge Algae Inc was formally accepted as a Client of the Houston Technology Center, an incubator for high-tech startups.  

The Company was awarded $250,000 from the State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund.  Under the terms of the award, the State of Texas will become a strategic investor in the Company.  

Sunrise Ridge Algae achieved targeted wastewater pollutant reductions and achieved intermediate level targets for algae production at Hornsby Bend.    The Company conducted a successful lab-scale test of its "dry" product separation process.

Our Mission

To develop and commercialize algae production systems that are economically successful at commodity scale.  

We are targeting large potential markets, including crude petroleum, chemical feedstocks, waste water cleanup (nitrogen, phosphorus) and greenhouse gas emission reduction.  Our strategy is to focus on production system scaling and cost reduction while managing the aquatic ecology to enhance the productivity of naturally-occurring aquatic biomass species.

Company Profile

Development Activities

Sunrise Ridge focuses its development activities in two major areas:

  • Scale up of aquatic biomass production (including nutrient sourcing, farm design and management, and harvesting and drying systems)
  • Scale up of biomass conversion processes (including integration with industrial facilities, end-use options for fuel products, and improving the value of products)

Demonstration Farm Operations

Sunrise Ridge Algae has leased a former fish farm facility near Katy, Texas to develop its lemna production technology.  The facility includes both indoor and outdoor tanks, and multiple large ponds.  Various growth, harvesting and drying technologies are under development at the facility.

Previous Pilot Test Operations

Sunrise Ridge Algae operated a pilot test facility for more than two years at the City of Austin's Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant.  Sunrise Ridge funded and built the facility, and used it to test multiple generations of closed algae production, harvesting and wastewater treatment facilities.  The City provided space, utilities and feed stocks, including waste water and carbon dioxide.

The work at the pilot plant facility was completed in February 2010, and the equipment was removed to make way for an expansion of the sewage treatment works. 










Mr. Norman Whitton is the CEO of Sunrise Ridge Algae Inc.    His 26 year career includes more than a decade of experience in the downstream petroleum and chemical industry while at Conoco Inc. and EI Du Pont, followed by more than a decade of experience at management consultancy Arthur D. Little, where he led the Energy Industry practice in Asia.  In recent years, Mr. Whitton has collaborated with a major Malaysian investor to develop startups in bitumen refining, oil and gas production, and palm-based biofuels.  Mr. Whitton's extensive experience in strategy and operations in the oil industry has provided unique insights for  research in key elements required for commercial production of commodity fuels.


Dr. Robert Weber is the Chief Technology Officer of Sunrise Ridge Algae Inc. Previously, Dr. Weber was a director at TIAX LLC, before which he was a principal at Arthur D. Little, Inc. and a member of the chemical engineering faculties at the University of Delaware and at Yale University. At Yale he also served for two years as the Associate Dean for Natural Sciences of the Graduate School.  Dr. Weber received a BA from Cornell University and a PhD from Stanford University.


Dr. Jerry Brand is Technical Advisor to Sunrise Ridge Algae Inc.  His 32 year career includes extensive research into photosynthesis, culturing and characterization of algae.  Currently, Dr. Brand is Director of the UTEX algae culture collection at the University of Texas at Austin.  The collection is one of the largest in the world, with more than 3,000 species under continuous cultivation or cryo-preserved.  

Dr. Brand supervises ongoing research sponsored by Sunrise Ridge for algae species selection in his laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.


Mr. David Griffith is EVP, Ventures and Licensing, for Sunrise Ridge Algae Inc.  In his 35 year career at ConocoPhillips, Mr. Griffith was responsible for major project development and negotiation.  He concluded landmark project deals, including the world's first major petroleum coke to electricity venture; one of the major Orinoco tar upgrader projects in Venezuela; and a 400,000 bpd joint venture refinery in Saudi Arabia.  Mr. Griffith also managed Conoco Inc.'s technology licensing program, and was responsible for marketing the company's gasification technology suite.

Contact Information

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Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Sunrise Ridge Holdings Inc.
Last modified: August 20, 2010