Apple reportedly acquires enough supplies to make 200M Sapphire iPhone displays

Apple(s aapl) will soon have everything it needs to put sapphire displays in the next generation of the iPhone, according to 9to5Mac. The company has reportedly ordered large quantities of furnaces and chambers used to make sapphire displays, along with tools for inspection. According to an analyst mentioned in the report, Apple will have enough materials for production parter GT Advanced Technologies to make anywhere from 100 million to 200 million sapphire iPhone displays, assuming a 5-inch screen size. Though debatable, it’s possible that sapphire could make for a stronger, more scratch-resistant display than the currently-employed Gorilla Glass(s glw).

CHEAT SHEET: Heavy Hitters in Algae Fuel Deals

The race to bring pond scum to fuel tanks has acquired high stakes in recent years, with venture capitalists, federal agencies and legacy oil companies pouring millions of dollars into the technology. Today ExxonMobil (s XOM) and startup Synthetic Genomics announced one of the biggest deals yet: more than $600 million for a 5-6-year algae biofuels development program, including more than $300 million to be invested into the startup.

While today’s project does not represent the largest algae deal to date (Algenol is building a plant in Mexico reportedly worth $850 million, as we’ve noted in the chart below), it is one of the biggest commitments so far from the oil industry — which has been placing a growing pile of chips on algae for its potential to work with existing infrastructure for fossil fuels (e.g., pipelines, oil refineries). Read More about CHEAT SHEET: Heavy Hitters in Algae Fuel Deals

Algae-based Biofuels Moving Ever So Slowly to Market

Algae-based biofuels hold enormous promise as an alternative transportation fuel, but investors had better have patience. Fuel made from algal feedstocks is forecast to reach commercial availability by 2012, according to a report released today by Pike Research on the global biofuels industry, but isn’t expected to have a significant effect on the market until 2016. Algae startups like Solazyme with aggressive production timelines, however, might disagree.

Pike Research expects algae-based fuels to be the third key wave of next-generation transportation fuels in coming years, just after those based on waste greases hit the market followed by jatropha-based fuels.  Yet while algal oil, which can be used to make biodiesel, ethanol and more, might be a late comer, it has enormous appeal, according to the report. “Algae is the only feedstock that has the potential to replace the world’s demand for transportation fuels,” the report said.

But there are several technical and economic hurdles to be overcome before algae-based fuels are viable. The biggest problem is that production costs are too high today, with some scientists estimating the price of producing a gallon of algae oil at $33 using current technology. Some technical challenges that remain are ensuring consistent growth of the organisms and harvesting the oil they produce.
Read More about Algae-based Biofuels Moving Ever So Slowly to Market