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Dillon started Solazyme with some colleagues in 2003 , and kept a culture collection of a couple hundred Chlamydomonas strains in his own low-tech facility. “We bought the growth media, sterilized it in my kitchen, and stored it in the garage,” he remembers.
They tried to grow the algae in outdoor ponds, but quickly realized that the productivity of the algae was nowhere near high enough to yield appreciable amounts of fuel. So they switched to heterotrophic species of algae, which directly consume carbon-based compounds rather than passively absorbing carbon dioxide from surrounding media.
Dillon says that he expects Solazyme to be producing algal biofuel at “demonstration levels of tens to thousands of gallons” per day by 2009, and aims to be producing its fuel products at commercial levels by 2011. “The scalability is not something that frightens me too much,” he says.
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