Algae to biodiesel: Look at Solazyme

Posted By on April 11, 2011

gasoline495_110409It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about biodiesel … perhaps because I’m not driving a diesel vehicle at the moment. Nevertheless, the promise of “growing fuel” is better then ever considering the panic we find ourselves in over the high price of fuel. Currently I’m seeing regular unleaded gasoline at $3.80/gallon and a friend just sent a photo (right) of pump prices that are much higher.

Most hearing biofuel or biodiesel think I’m talking about corn based ethanol or food-based biodiesel coming from soybeans or recycled cooking oils … but what I’m talking about is fuel derived from fast growing algae. Although few companies are producing enough to create a business model that can compete with petroleum companies, some like Solazyme are well on their way. They are producing algae based fuels with industry leading refining partners. They currently tailor fuels for the U.S. Navy — SoladieselRD® renewable diesel, SoladieselHRF-76® renewable diesel for ships, and Solajet® renewable jet fuel.

In 2010, we delivered over 80,000 liters of algal-derived marine diesel and jet fuel to the U.S. Navy, constituting the world’s largest delivery of 100% microbial-derived, non-ethanol biofuel. Subsequently, we were awarded another contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for production of up to 550,000 additional liters of naval distillate (SoladieselHRF-76® marine fuel).



Solazyme made the decision several years ago to grow heterotrophic algae in the dark and harvest renewable oils – and have become the unquestioned leader in the quest to make an integrated biorefinery commercially successful in the production of renewable oils for fuels, foods and other bio-based products,” noted Digest editor Jim Lane. “Along the ways they’ve racked up an impressive array of partners, and won contracts to supply biofuels to the US Department of Defense. More importantly, in every way, they have personified throughout their organization what it means to be an advanced bio-based company – in the ways that they have triumphed, and in the ways they have faced adversity.”

Biofuel Digest Company of the year

As an investor, I’m unsure biofuel companies can compete head to head with “big oil” and the cartels who still control the up and down swings in the price of crude, but I do know I’d rather see and industry built around hiring Americans to grow and harvest carbon-neutral algae and turning the ‘grown’ oils into a fuel for cars, trucks, ships and planes. The current strategy of continuing to buy oil from cartels overseas and having our country’s economy held hostage over energy isn’t working.

Developing the algae-to-fuel industry is far better than processing food base oil crops and hold significant promise in that the by-product of ‘growing’ algae offsets the CO2 produced when using it. Solazyme and like companies are creating an entirely new industry which could employ thousands of Americans and help free our addiction to foreign oil. As the over used quote goes … it’s a “Win Win” business proposition.

Thanks for the forward, Buck.


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