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Originally published August 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 4, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Business Digest

Cruise line signs biodiesel contract

Pacific Northwest Imperium Renewables said Friday it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel. The Seattle-based biodiesel maker...

Imperium Renewables said Friday it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel.

The Seattle-based biodiesel maker, which is scheduled to inaugurate its Grays Harbor plant this month, will sell the cruise line 15 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007 and 18 million gallons annually for four years after that. The Miami-based cruise line has four vessels that call in Seattle.

"We believe this is the single-largest long-term biodiesel sales contract to an end user in the U.S.," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Imperium also said it had reached an agreement to purchase Royal Caribbean Cruises' 7 percent stake in the Grays Harbor facility.

The company is pushing back the completion date of three planned biodiesel plants by one quarter. Its Hawaii and Argentina facilities are now scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008, and a Philadelphia plant for the first quarter of 2009.

Starbucks

Protein smoothies getting a tryout

Starbucks is testing sales of protein-enhanced smoothies in Seattle as it looks to add summertime drinks for customers who don't want hot coffee.

Sales of 16-ounce smoothies with flavors such as banana-chocolate and strawberry-banana began at six cafes in late July, spokesman Brandon Borrman said Friday. The drinks are made with ice, fruit, protein supplements and milk, and cost $3.90.

"We'll keep an eye on it and see where it goes," Borrman said. "It has potential."

The protein mix used in the smoothies is made by Kinetix, a nutrition firm whose investors include Maveron, the venture-capital firm co-founded by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. Schultz doesn't have a management role in Kinetix, and his ownership stake is less than 5 percent, Borrman said.

Technology

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Problems found in prototypes

Microsoft and Google's efforts to free some television airwaves for wireless Internet access hit an obstacle after U.S. regulators found problems with the companies' prototype devices.

The products may interfere with broadcast television signals and wireless microphones, the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology said in a Tuesday report.

The unused airwaves, known as white spaces, have been set aside for television and go empty in several U.S. cities. To get permission to use them, a group of technology companies including Microsoft and Google had to submit devices to be tested this year.

The technology companies "remain confident that unlicensed television spectrum can be used without interference," the coalition said Friday. "We will work with the Federal Communications Commission to resolve any open questions," so the agency can decide by October whether to allow such uses, the group said.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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