Algae Fuel Tests at the Pump

Posted on 09/24/13 3 Comments

algae biodiesel 2

According to an article in VOA News, Propel Fuels did a month long test of Algae Based Biodiesel at 4 of its 7 stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.   There were no reports of issues with the fuel and sales actually spiked 35%.   Prices were kept the same as the “standard” Biodiesel.    The oil feedstock for this special Biodiesel was sourced from San Francisco based Solazyme, which has a patented algae-oil technology.  Instead of growing algae with light in large ponds, Solazyme ferments plant sugars with high yielding algae, in the absence of light.   With this process, the microalgae’s natural oil production time is accelerated to “just a few days”.   Solazyme is rapidly moving out of testing phase, and into full scale production with the construction of two new plants in Illinois and Brazil.

Algae Biodiesel 3


by Jason Jelonek


  1. Charles says:
    Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:01pm

    This is fantastic news, we need to do this in Canada now!!!


  2. Sid says:
    Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:03am

    That’s great but does that mean clear more native forest for sugar cane production to feed cars instead of food for the people ? I am sure Brazil’s millionaires & illegal forest clearing will jump at the opportunity !


  3. Jason Jelonek says:
    Monday, September 30, 2013 at 11:32pm

    Thanks Sid. I wrote Solazyme regarding your concerns and got a detailed response…here it is, “Hi Jason –

    Sustainability is in our DNA, which is why we have built this platform to be incredibly feedstock flexible. Not only can we use existing sources of sugar but we can also use sugar derived from cellulosic/waste sources at large scale once they become available at the right cost and importantly scale. In fact, we have already produced oils at scale from these waste sugar sources. Our new 100,000MT plant in Brazil, is located in an area that is historically agricultural land or degraded pasture land – not in fragile ecosystems or forestland. The plant is also powered by the waste cane stalks and in fact will feed energy back into the grid in Brazil. The sugar plantations are not irrigated and are Bonsucro certified meaning it meets the highest level of sustainability for sugar production.

    Also, keep in mind that our technology allows us to produce multiple types of oils everything from a heart healthy, pure high oleic food oil to oils that are alternatives to less sustainable sources of oil such as palm, palm kernel and other tropical oils. In fact this technology can fundamentally divorce geography from oil production, relieving pressure from fragile ecosystems around the equator where tropical oils are grown and deforestation is a growing concern which is a huge benefit.

    This is a technology that allows us as a planet to do more with what we have. The oil profiling tailoring ability also means that we are producing a barrel of oil that has the most valuable cuts of the oil. For example, 1 kg of palm oil yields about 15% of the C14 fatty acid. We are able to make an oil that optimizes for C14 and can get as high as 60% C14 per kg of oil. So, with this technology we produce only what is most valuable and needed in products, reducing waste and insuring supply chain integrity and traceability which is so important in weighing sustainability benefits as you know. Put in broader terms, for every 100,000MT of oil we produce at our new plant in Brazil, the CO2e savings (as compared to producing a petroleum based hydraulic fluid) are equivalent to planting nearly 10 million trees. Algal oil is the most sustainable source of oil on the planet, by many different metrics.

    The fact that we can also produce food ingredients such as protein, high lipid whole algal flour that can replace butter and eggs in baking, as well as multiple pure, healthy oils is a paradigm shift.

    Hope that this helps a bit, we are excited as we move into this next phase of large scale commercialization. And as someone who also works in the algae space you more than anyone else, likely understands that we are all trying to build something special that will have positive impacts for generations to come. We truly feel as though we are just scratching the surface of what this new platform can mean.

    Genet G.
    VP Communications”


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