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The story behind 1500 gallons of Solazyme's jet fuel to the U.S. Navy Posted by Sumukhi on Wed August 11 2010 05:17:27 PM 56

Solazyme,a San Francisco-based algae company claimed that they provided about 1500 gallons of algae-based jet fuel , infact 100 percent algae-based fuel to the U.S. Navy. So, I was actually wondering what is so special about it that the U.S. Navy is after it.


Harris Dillion, the founder of Solazyme Inc. claims that their technology is to feed the biomass
( industrial and agricultural) for the algae,the algae eats it up and accumulate oil in their cells. They take the algae out, dry it and squeeze 80% of oil. They then transport this in a tanker to their biorefinery where this oil is converted into jet-fuel and more.

Algae strain selection as you might be aware is a resource intensive exercise,Solazyme has dedicated many years of research to identify the best oil yielding strain which can produce oil. In fact they are using an engineered algal strain.


The company apparently is seven years old and the process with the tank and growing the algae has been in development for about four years. Before that, they spent a few years growing the algae in ponds using sunlight, and realized that would never work.

The cost of making a gallon of oil by growing algae in the sun according to Dillon is about $1,000 a gallon. They then realized that the process of feeding biomass to yeast to make ethanol, which is about $2 a gallon. So they fed the sugars to algae, and use the same process to make oil.


They have considered all the aspects of the normal jet-fuel and worked on producing the same from their algae jet fuel for the US navy. There are many properties such as flash points,or freezing points, because it's very cold in the sky. You have to be above a certain freezing point. The standards are pretty stringent and of course, it needs to have a certain density because there?s not a lot of room on a jet.

Also, the density of jet fuel is actually a little lower than diesel because if you drop the density you can keep it from solidifying at cold temperatures.

Interestingly, no changes need to be made in the aircraft to support this fuel. There is no requirement of new engines, new pipelines or new gas pumps.

Solazyme actually aims at making the fuel meet every single fuel standard the Navy has so it can be used as a 100 percent drop-in replacement and now that they have delivered 1500 gallons of jet-fuel to the US navy, they will now send it to laboratories to get the final approval before they test their planes. Additionally,

Solazyme is also planning to deliver about 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel which will be used for ships.
They claim that they will be able to make oil $60 to $80 a barrel within two years, and they say that they are not much higher than that now.

The Air Force is also certainly interested in these fuels as well. The Navy has a goal to operate at least 50 percent of its fleet on clean, renewable fuel by 2020. The Navy has led the way in putting a bold target out there and getting this program up and running.

Good luck to Solazyme!!!


According to Solazyme,

1. Their method of algae production doesn?t require light ( heterotropic)

2. They unlike others grow algae in steel tanks (fermenters) and not in open- ponds or Photobioreactors.

3. They wish to use existing infrastructure (large-scale fermentation tanks and bio refineries).

4. They have supplied 15,000 gallons to US Navy and their jet-fuel is 100% algae-based.

5. The U.S. Navy has sent it for testing it in laboratories and will use it only after they get it approved.

6. They plan to provide 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel for the Navy to run the ships.

7. Initially, they tried to grow algae in open-ponds but as they felt open ?ponds is economically not viable they have opted for dark-fermentation using cheap sugars.

8. Air-force is also interested in Solazyme's jet fuel

9. Solazyme has provided 15,000 gallons of jet-fuel to the U.S. Navy at their own cost.

$52 million for algae fuel development- Solazyme Posted by Sumukhi on Tue August 10 2010 06:58:56 AM 6

Solazyme, a company based out of California have been working on a unique method of making algae fuels by using cheap sugars to grow algae in the dark.

As you might be aware of the fact that Solazyme uses a very different approach to make biofuels, they use heterotrophic algae in the dark while the others grow photo-autotrophic algae in light.These algae however doesn?t require sunlight, they need sugar for their growth. Intrestingly, Growing these algae in dark is a simplified process. It grows faster in dark than with light.

Heterotrophic algae are fed with sugars(corn, sorghum or other sources), they consume the food and show significant growth. They can reproduce every 8 hours.

The company's researchers feed algae sugar, which the organisms then convert into various types of oil. The oil can be extracted and further processed to make a range of fuels, including diesel and jet fuel, as well as other products.

There are some people who contradict saying , this might actually not work the sugars may turn more expensive. However, there are some researchers who argue saying that , even if they use corn as a sugar source for algae,they are still left with the corn protein and corn oil which can be used. Similarly if starch is used, they can be further used for ethanol production.

Surprisingly ,sugar-fed algae grow more rapidly. Researchers claim that algae grown in the dark can reach densities that are 1,000 times higher than strains of photo-autotrophic algae that are grown in the light . One concentrated tank of heterotrophic algae is equivalent to growing 1000 tanks of photo-autotrophic algae.

This company announced that it has raised $52 million in a series D round, which brings investment bank Morgan Stanley into its list of investors. In addition to venture-capital companies, the venture arms of Chevron and Japanese food ingredient manufacturer San-Ei Gen also participated.

Last month, it delivered 1,500 gallons of jet fuel made from algae to the U.S. Navy for testing and certification. Solazyme is also making chemicals for food ingredients and health products where its oil can be used as a substitute. Even with the funding and contracts with the U.S. military, Solazyme still faces the challenge of commercializing its technology by bringing down the cost of its oils, particularly for fuels.

More from here - http://www.oilgae.com/blog/2009/02/solazyme-differs-from-its-competitors.html

What have scientists and algae companies got to talk about Genetic Enginnering of algae ? Posted by Sumukhi on Sun August 08 2010 07:10:28 PM 2

Many scientists, particularly those in the algae business, say the fears of using genetically engineered algae are overblown. Just as food crops cannot thrive without a farmer to nourish them and fend off pests, algae modified to be energy crops would be uncompetitive against wild algae if they were to escape, even inside their own ponds.

Instead of using open ponds, some companies are using bioreactors, which typically contain algae in tubes. Experts say these would not totally prevent escapes. Sapphire says it is not growing any genetically engineered algae in open ponds yet. Genetically engineered algae, whether in open ponds or enclosed bioreactors, are likely to be regulated by environmental protection law.

The opinion of a few scientists and companies have been highlighted below:

Groenwold - Scientist- University of North Dakota

We are not saying don?t do this,? said Gerald H. Groenewold, director of the University of North Dakota?s Energy and Environmental Research Center, who is trying to organise a study of the risks. ?We say do this with the knowledge of the implications and how to safeguard what you are doing.?

David Haberman - Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee

A week earlier, at an industry-sponsored bioenergy conference, David Haberman, an electrical engineer by training, served from 2000 to 2005 as a member of the Energy Department's Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel, (now known as the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee).

He has been a leading voice calling for an overarching risk analysis of genetically modified algae and its impacts to human health and environment.

Stephen Mayfield - Scientist - University of California, Co- founder- Sapphire Energy

?Everything we do to engineer an organism makes it weaker,? said Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-founder of Sapphire.

Dr Mayfield and other scientists say there have been no known environmental problems in the 35 years that scientists have been genetically engineering bacteria, although some organisms have escaped from laboratories.

David Haberman and Stephen Mayfield:

In a worst-case scenario, Haberman asserts, the genetically modified algae might even be used in weapons to destroy fisheries or make large numbers of people sick.

While Stephen Mayfield, says he foresees a future where GM algae research would be moved outdoors to open ponds, he said it is unlikely the engineered substance could compete with natural strains.

"If they get out, they won't do better than the local guys. We're trying to make these guys couch potatoes," he said. Changes biologists are making to the algae are designed to make them "big and fat and happy," to optimize their oil output, he said. When you do that, "they generally don't survive out in the world."

Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones - LiveFuels.

Algae replicate much more quickly than other GMO crops, echoed Livefuels' Morgenthaler-Jones. Livefuels is a California-based company working on turning natural strains of algae into biofuels

"With corn, you can expect one crop a year, but with algae, you could get one crop a day.

" Such strains from the lab have already leaked out into the environment in small quantities.

"They have been carried out on skin, on hair and all sort of other ways, like being blown on a breeze out the air conditioning system," she said.

However, there is no body that would be documenting that type of information, so it is unknown whether or not that assertion is well-founded. But if such algae are out there, she is not worried, she said. She doubts they could compete with existing natural strains of algae to make a go of it in the wild.

Stan Barnes - Bioalgene,

?Re-engineering algae seem driven more by patent law and investor desire for protection than any real requirement,? said Stan Barnes, chief executive of Bioalgene, one of those companies.

But others argue there are huge obstacles to making algae competitive as an energy source and that every tool will be needed to optimise the strains.

Richard Sayre - Phycal

Algae can reproduce rapidly, and can be carried long distances by the wind. ?They have the potential to blow all over the world,? said Richard Sayre of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

Sayre, who is also the chief technology officer of Phycal, an algae company using genetic engineering to develop algae that capture less light.

He explained, If each organism captured less, then a given amount of light could be shared by more organisms, increasing biomass production.

Al Darzins - NREL

Before genetically modified strains are ready to debut in such ponds, however, regulators and researchers must answer a litany of questions about their potential environmental risks, said Al Darzins, a molecular biologist and principal group manager in bioenergy at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"I'm absolutely convinced that if you're going to be using genetically modified algae in the future -- growing out in an open pond -- that before that happens on a very large scale there has to be some sort of risk assessment on what's going to happen to the potential ecology," he said.

Ari Patrinos - Synthetic Genomics,

Whether the algae escaped from the lab or an outdoor pond -- could be solved with genetic engineering, said Ari Patrinos, president of Synthetic Genomics, the company co-founded by J. Craig Venter, who helped sequence the human genome.

Patrinos' recommendation: engineering organisms that have "suicide genes" that would keep such species from surviving outside of the environment for which they were designed. Though he believes that could be done with current knowledge, he noted: "We aren't doing anything like that ourselves."

Currently, the outlook for GM algae in general remains unclear, said Synthetic Genomics' Patrinos. His company is still unsure if genetically modified algae will ever be a strong, cost-effective competitor with natural strains and is focusing much of its work on exploring natural strains, he said.

"We may wind up never having to use genetically engineered algae in open ponds at all," he said. "Research is research, and people explore all possibilities."

Craig Ventor - Scientist - Creator- Artificial Bacteria

The man behind the first self replicating artificial bacteria says ? Dr. Craig Venter says ? algae should be engineered with a ?suicide gene? to shut down if they escape.?

Jonathan Gressel - TransAlgae

Jonathan Gressel, TransAlgae's chief scientific officer, explained in an interview that its concept is to suppress genes that are not needed in the environment of algae cultivation, but that would be vital if the algae were to survive outside their regulated environment.

The algae could be designed without swimming flagella, with an inability to absorb carbon dioxide from the low levels in seawater or to have other enfeebling traits, depending on the gene.

Algae Energy from Man-made Ponds. Posted by Sumukhi on Thu April 08 2010 08:05:01 AM 2

Sapphire energy plans to build man-made ponds to grow algae and convert it into oil. The place they have chosen is Luna County, which is considered ideal for algae-based biofuel because of

a.Flat desert conditions.
b.High level of sunlight
c.Large amount of underground salt water.

Sapphire plans to use only brackish, or highly saline, water and concentrate on specific algae species, considering the region.

In New Mexico,there is an exemption for finding water that comes from below 2,500 feet and research studies reveal that Luna County has more brackish water than fresh water.

Sapphire energy is being funded by the Wellcome trust, Venrock and Rockfeller family. Interestingly,the construction of this facility would provide about 750 jobs to farmers and agriculturists of the Luna County, who have been unemployed.

Promotional material claims that the plant will reach commercial demonstration scale by 2012, commercial scale by 2018, and by 2025, 1-million gallons of green crude per year will come gurgling out of the plant.

Full article - http://elpasoinc.com/readArticle.aspx?issueid=278&xrec=5087

Compare "Algae" with Billion Feedstock, its still the best! Posted by Sumukhi on Wed April 07 2010 03:33:33 AM 5

Researchers and scientists are very frantically looking for an ideal feedstock for use as a biofuel source.Though there are many bio feedstock under research, some bottlenecks are hindering the way to make either of them commercially viable.

Earlier, first-generation feedstock were widely researched for fuel purposes.Taking into consideration the food-fuel debate, these feedstock were ignored and higher priority was given to the second-generation and the third generation feedstock.

These second generation feedstock include weeds such as Miscanthus or Camelina, whose biofuel potential were deciphered in the recent past.

Recently, the use of algae which is a third generation feedstock is being widely researched due to the advantage offered by it to grow even in waste water.

Dozens of potential feedstocks have been tested and many show promise. An Iowa based renewable energy company tested 34 feedstocks to choose the best out of them..
The feedstock included two types of algae, beef tallow, borage, camelina, canola, castor, choice white grease, coconut, coffee, corn oil, cuphea, evening primrose, fish, hemp, linseed, mustard, palm, poultry, rice bran, soybean, sunflower, used cooking oil and yellow grease.Some lesser-known feedstocks were also tested. The feedstock were tested based on15 parameters, some of which include moisture, free fatty acid, oxidative stability and cloud point.

Highlighted below are the feedstock which are believed to have a great potential in yielding oil in the near future

Feedstock Tested:

1. Babassu oil - Extracted from the seeds of the babassu palm tree, the babassu is common in Brazil, Mexico and Honduras. The kernels are 60-70 percent oil.

2.Hepar oil - A byproduct of the heparin manufacturing process, hepar oil is derived from the mucosal tissues of animals, such as pig intestines and cow lungs.

3.Jatropha oil - From a shrub also known as the physic nut, jatropha is native to Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay.

4.Jojoba oil - An evergreen perennial shrub that grows in Arizona and Mexico, jojoba dehulled seeds contain 44 percent liquid wax.

5.Karanja oil - A medium-sized evergreen tree that grows in India, karanja seed contains 27-39 percent oil.

6.Fendler's bladderpod oil - Also known as Lesquerella, Fendler's bladderpod is used similarly to castor oil.

7.Moringa oleifera oil - Native to India, Africa, Arabia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, South America and the Philippines, Moringa seeds contain between 33 and 41 percent oil.

8.Neem oil - A large evergreen tree found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Japan and tropical regions in Australia, neem kernels contain 40-50 percent acrid green to brown-colored oil.

9.Perilla oil - Cultivated in China, Korea, Japan and India, the perilla plant's seeds contain 35-45 percent oil.

10.Stillingia oil - From the Chinese tallow tree, stillingia seeds contain 45-60 percent oil. The tree is used to prevent soil erosion and grows on marginal land in eastern Asia.

11.Tung oil - From the tung tree, tung seed is similar to linseed, safflower and soybean oil.

Eventually, the researchers have drawn a conclusion that algae will be the ideal feedstock. Though there are a lot of feedstock having the capability of yielding oil, algae offers several advantages for use as a fuel.Though not there yet, many scientists and biodiesel enthusiasts hope algae can be customized for biodiesel production.

Commercialization of algae is expected in 2013 claims the Algal Biomass Organization.The Algal Biomass was formed to facilitate commercialization and market development of microalgae biomass specifically for biofuels production and greenhouse gas abatement. There are several companies that are looking at raising algae in brackish or non-potable water with access to light and heat.

Additonally,Algae can also be raised in sludge water, wastewater treatment facilities, salt water and outdoor ponds in warm climate. Algae could be raised in conjunction with animal waste lagoons. Algae can use the carbon dioxide and nutrients from waste to grow rapidly, creating a symbiotic relationship.

Challenges faced:

The young industry has several challenges, though.
Some of the challenges include acquiring algae feedstocks, finding ways to make algae biodiesel profitable, and keeping protozoa at bay.


Carbon Trust will Decipher a Winning Formula for algae biodiesel commercialisation by 2030 Posted by Sumukhi on Tue April 06 2010 03:37:11 AM 35

The Carbon Trust has made big plans to develop a sustainable, cost effective biofuel from algae.
This UK-based sustainability firm has joined hands with twelve other UK firms working on the same domain, and this group claims that they will come up with winning solutions for cultivating 70 billion litres of algae biofuel a year by 2030. These twelve firms were selected based on their proposals and an assessment process.

This algae biofuel research will start from scratch: Starting from first principles of agriculture, thousands of strains of algae will be screened to find the winning few that can produce large quantities of a substance similar to vegetable oil.

Other research areas also include: Developing methods for enabling large-scale production in algae ponds .
A construction of a pilot demo plant has also been planned by carbon trust.

As you all know, Algae has the potential to produce 5 to 10 times more oil per hectare than conventional cropland biofuels The new Carbon Trust lifecycle analysis indicates that,over a period of few years, it could provide carbon savings of up to 80 per cent compared to fossil fuel petrol and jet fuel.

Production of 70 billion litres will require man-made algae ponds equivalent to a landmass larger than Wales to be built in optimum locations across the world.

Algae need a source of carbon dioxide and water to grow so the Carbon Trust is now looking to investigate possible locations for large-scale plants which could be, for example, next to industrial facilities located near the sea.

If this process is sucessful, algae oil can be obtained from prices even less than $1 per litre.

See more - http://bit.ly/90R0av

Algae fuels - A Dream Come True. Posted by Sumukhi on Mon April 05 2010 03:34:47 AM 1

A company working on algae fuels claims that it has cracked the code for commercializing algae jet fuel and they hope that it can be used soon;there is no need to wait for another fifteen-twenty years to see this happen.

The company is Solazyme, which is a leading renewable oil and bioproducts company. This company employs algal biotechnology techniques to produce clean fuels, chemicals,foods and health science products.

Technology: Growing algae in dark fermentation tanks is an innovative way of growing algae.Solazyme grows the strains in a dark vessel to produce fuels. By growing their algae in dark vessels, the company does not incur the energy costs of providing the algae artificial light.In short, Solazyme basically feed their algae sugar until they become plumpy enough to explode with oil .

This type of fermentation is referred to as Heterotropic fermnentation. This process requires a fraction of the amount of water as a PBR or open pond. These strains of algae also do not require C02 and this is accepted by the algae experts round the globe.

Two logistic hindrances to issue faced by algae biofuels have been overcome by this firm.

1. Photosynthetic algae commercialization.

2. The other is removing the water, which isn't an issue because the cultivation is done in dark vessels.

The company also strongly believes that the algae jet fuel will be a dream come true soon,though many of the algae scientists claim that algae have long-term prospects only and not much can be done in the near future.

Good luck to Solazyme!!!

See more - http://bit.ly/aGcENc

P.S: The company has not disclosed its extraction method, but they claim that the process will cost a few cents per gallon, which really sounds exciting.

Will Botyrococcus braunii be a major diesel contributor? Posted by Sumukhi on Sat April 03 2010 04:32:16 AM 49

A research scientist in Texas claims that Botyrococcus braunii(BB) one of the most highly researched oil yielding strain will be a major contributor to meet the fuel needs.It is also believed that these biofuel algae store hydrocarbons to about 30-40% of their dry-weight.

Reasons why BB is widely researched:
1. It has an ability to produce oil in a small land area.
2. The quality of the oil obtained from the algae is excellent.
3. The BB hydrocarbons are pretty much similar to the chemical structure of gasoline and hence, the diesel obtained fdrom BB is referred to as diesel simply and not biodiesel and gasoline is also referred to as gasoline and not bio-gasoline.
4. The oil it produces is similar to petroleum, unlike the other algae they dont produce veggie type oils.

Though BB possess all these features, there are some key issues to which clear answers are required to commercially produce "diesel" and "gasoline" are:

a. Its slow growth rate ? Requires four days doubling time.
b. Expensive to cultivate.

Algae enthusiasts and research scientists have therefore decided to study the genomic structure of BB. Surprisingly, the genome sequence of the BB has still not been analysed and scientists intend to study the genome sequence so as to identify the genes involved in cell-division.

We can soon expect the whole genome of this top biofuel strain . This apparently, is composed of guanine(G) and cytosine(C) and hence can be very difficult to sequence.Only after knowing the amount of G and C, we can evaluate the amount of resources required for genome sequencing.

Hence,if the genetic make up of BB is fully analysed, it will place the algae biofuels in a higher stage.