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Solazyme Unveils Algal Renewable Diesel That Meets ASTM D-975 Specifications

12 June 2008

Solazyme has unveiled a microalgae-derived renewable diesel fuel, SoladieselRD, that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D-975 specifications for petroleum diesel fuels. SoladieselRD is the first algal renewable diesel to meet these standards, and the second algae-derived fuel from the company.

SoladieselRD is output from a refinery, where a hydrotreatment stage deoxygenates the algal oil, resulting in a pure hydrocarbon product. The final product’s chemical composition is identical to that of standard petroleum-based diesel, and SoladieselRD is fully compatible with the existing transportation fuel infrastructure.

Having fewer particulate emissions, SoladieselRD also has a more desirable environmental footprint than standard petro-diesel. In addition, it meets the new ASTM ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) standards.

Solazyme has road tested a 100% blend of SoladieselRD in a factory standard 2005 Jeep Liberty diesel.

In January, Solazyme announced that it had entered into a biodiesel feedstock development and testing agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron USA to work on developing algae optimized to produce oils for use in hydrotreatment at a refinery. (Earlier post.) Solazyme would not comment on whether or not the SoladieselRD fuel was a result of that collaboration.

For hydrotreatment, you might want to have higher saturation [in the algal oil] and you want low saturation levels for methyl esters.

—Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme CEO

Solazyme earlier introduced Soladiesel, a biodiesel produced from algae that are engineered to produce an oil with an optimized fatty acid profile to enhance cold flow performance, among other properties, and are also modified to grow in the dark in industrial fermentation tanks fed with plant sugars. (Earlier post.)

This now marks the production of our second fuel that meets current US fuel specifications and is an important validation of our proprietary process using microalgae to produce renewable fuels.

—Jonathan Wolfson

June 12, 2008 in Algae, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

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Well this is a start but its not true algae biodiesel in that it is grown from sugar and not sunlight. By the way does "Soladiesel" somehow remind anyone of Soylent Green?

Another promising idea bought up by an oil company

never to see the light of day

"The final product’s chemical composition is identical to that of standard petroleum-based diesel"

or used to produce diesel sold at 5 bucks a gallon

the hydro treatment they are using was technically developed by an oil company, specifically Shell back in the '70's. Really this is most likely to be the Soladiesel that they produce and not the biodiesel version as the hydro treatment method is far more efficient at converting the biomass into renewable fuel.

Such cynicism.

Remember that the private oil companies have very little access to the remaining oil reserves. If they want to stay in business they'll have to find alternatives.

"the hydro treatment they are using was technically developed by an oil company, specifically Shell back in the '70's."

it is now 2008 lets see that is 38 years

I like that development cycle

Cervus is correct. Profit is a powerful motive, survival is more powerful.

I don't get the point of sugar-fed algae growing in the dark. How much energy does it take to make a barrel of this stuff? Is it an environmentally positive ratio, like cellosic can be?

"Cervus is correct. Profit is a powerful motive, survival is more powerful."

Yes keeping there 5 dollar diesel and not letting some startup company compete

This could be an excellent start, that is, if it can actually be scaled up and made profitable. A big hurdle would be securing a steady supply of cheap sugar. If this was scaled up to make a few hundred thousand barrels a day, sugar would get pretty expensive. But maybe that would be a good place for cellulosic sugars to take over.

Wouldnt $5/gal let just about any startup compete?

Perhaps we could figure out a way to grow a high sugar algae and then feed it to the oil producing algae?

Wouldnt $5/gal let just about any startup compete?

Perhaps we could figure out a way to grow a high sugar algae and then feed it to the oil producing algae?


So they were able to do what others have been able to for quite some time. Whoopie. The way they keep touting elementary milestones is asinine. Netse already has a few plants in operation/construction doing the same...

I'll be impressed once they release #'s that show adding a feedstock (sugar) can compete against free sunlight, that it has a neutral (or better) energy balance (when taking into account the sugar harvesting & processing) and that they can accomplish it on a large scale.

"Yes keeping there 5 dollar diesel and not letting some startup company compete"

If the $5 stays in this country, then the dollar will be worth more, and diesel will be $2.50. Not to mention the reduced costs of military action. If it is not economically competitive, or energy competitive, it will fail, so let it. If it is, at least someone with deep pockets and a vested interest in energy is in the game -- or pretending to be in the game.

While not meeting the non food criteria, wich may become mandated in the future, we should always encourage research and trialling of innovation in rational areas.
There are lessons to learn here and in time if the product meets price competition or legislation, we will have the figures to help us decide.
Meanwhile dentists worldwide will notice the drop in caries.

@ nameless poster,

"it is now 2008 lets see that is 38 years

I like that development cycle"

Hydrotreating has been in use for a long time. Virtually all ULSD has been hydrotreated to remove sulfur and other impurities. It's also used to produce other high-quality, high-purity products such as odorless mineral spirit. The extra refining step costs money and consumes more energy in the form of hydrogen (usually from natural gas) and extra process heat. The process here obviously utilizes some new form of catalysis.

The question still remains, how much sugar does it take to produce a bbl or oil. Who knows, maybe they can make a hybrid system to feed the algae at night and use the sun focused during the day.
I like the idea of this technology because as stated, oil companies are getting locked out of large reserves so this makes sense.

I don't understand how growing algae with sugar is viable. Think about it, sugar cane requires sunlight to grow (just like algae’s), must be harvested, then processed, and is susceptible to droughts, disease, bugs and fires. I would think skipping the 'middle man' here and just growing the algae on non-arable low precipitous lands would make the most economical sense...

Hoping that electric cars will leapfrog them all
and that we stop stupid expeditions to Mars and use
that money to set up solar collectors in Space or
on the Moon. All this other stuff is to get from here
to there, IMO.

Hoping that electric cars will leapfrog them all
and that we stop stupid expeditions to Mars and use
that money to set up solar collectors in Space or
on the Moon. All this other stuff is to get from here
to there, IMO.

Nice story! Can I use this for my blog? gr, remcowoudstra

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