Algae-to-fuels firm Sapphire Energy says the first phase of its demonstration facility is operational. In June, Sapphire had its first harvest of algae biomass from its Green Crude Farm in Columbus, N.M. The firm says it has since obtained 21 million gal of algae totaling 81 tons. The cultivation area consists of algae ponds that are 1.1 acres and 2.2 acres in size. Sapphire will next transition its operations to a winter variety of algae. When completed, the facility is expected to cover 300 acres and produce 1.5 million gal of crude oil per year.