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J.B. Hunt Transport Services Signs Cooperative Agreement with Algal Oil Producer SunEco Energy

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America, and algal oil producer SunEco Energy signed a cooperative agreement, which could lead to J.B. Hunt becoming a significant purchaser of biodiesel made from natural algae oil using SunEco Energy’s proprietary technology. J.B. Hunt runs about 10,000 tractors in its fleet, and burns some 100 million gallons of fuel per year.

The two companies conducted a series of successful tests using biodiesel made by SunEco Energy from 100% natural algae oil produced at the company’s pilot plant in Chino, California. These tests, using a 20% and 50% blend of algae biodiesel with petroleum diesel, measured an 82% reduction in particulate emissions with no loss of power compared to ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD).

The SunEco A-50 blend showed an opacity measurement of 2.5%, compared to the typical petroleum diesel opacity of 14%.

Finding alternative energy sources to put in our fuel tanks is good business for our company and our nation. SunEco’s innovative process to produce renewable fuel supplies from algae grown in American ponds is an intriguing new option. Our initial experience with their algae-based biodiesel is promising, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with SunEco Energy to move towards a lower cost, less carbon intensive, and more secure energy supply for our business.

—Gary Whicker, senior vice president of engineering for J.B. Hunt

SunEco’s proprietary technology utilizes naturally occurring algae strains in a monitored environment to produce an oil product suitable for making renewable transportation fuels and other oil-based products, and, as a byproduct of the process, a high-quality animal feed supplement. SunEco is currently raising additional funding to enable the large scale deployment of the technology in US and international markets, including a large development in the Imperial Valley region of California.

The initial commercial product to be produced by SunEco is a de-watered, de-gummed biocrude algal oil. This product is suitable to be refined into biodiesel or to be mixed up to 50% with petroleum products to produce renewable diesel. In a fully discounted model, using its proprietary technology for the growth and harvesting of native algae species in open ponds , SunEco claims it can currently produce at least 33,000 gallons of biocrude per acre-foot per year.

On its current acreage, at the present stage of cultivation without the implementation of all of its technology, the company expects yields of 40,000 gallons per day to be shipped to various biodiesel refineries in Southern California.

Once algae production is ramped up and permitting for on-site processing is completed in the fourth quarter of 2009, the major algal oil product to be produced will be SunEco straight vegetable oil (SVO), refined from biocrude at a 1:1 ratio resulting again in 33,000 gallons per acre-foot per year.

This product can be directly mixed with low sulfur petroleum diesel up to a ratio of 50% with an increase in lubricity and with no loss in BTUs or cetane and no change in cloud point. It can also be directly refined into a high-quality biodiesel meeting all of the specifications for ASTM B100 biodiesel.

The SunEco technology has been in development for more than five years, with an operating pilot facility over the past two years.



"SunEco claims it can currently produce at least 33,000 gallons of biocrude per acre-foot per year."

Acre foot? I have heard claims of 2000 and even 20,000 gallons per acre per year, but not acre foot. Maybe they are claiming acre foot of water, which is quite a lot.

1.0 acre foot = 325,851 gallons

So, it would take almost 10 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of fuel. What happens to the water? Can it be reused and what does that cost?


This process could become competitive with alternative fuel from palm oil. The end product seems to have similar qualities and could be produced outside the inner rainy tropical areas (+10/-10) that palm plantations require.

Using existing, very large, non-farming sunny desert areas could make this alternative liquid fuel more sustainable.

It could certainly replace current alternative fuels made from edible products such as corn and sugar cane derived ethanol.


I am all for making our fuels, but the whole story has to be told. When it sounds too good to be true...and all that. Right now they make it sound like you get some scrub land, add a lot of that bad old CO2 and poof...fuel! Water, energy balance, nutrients, land usage, transport of product and other details seem to be left out of the discussion.


But, it still beats the heck out of imported oil


Well it might, but you do not know unless you know all the facts. Right now there is venture money and government money pouring into what looks like a promising effort. If it were a sure thing that was cost effective and highly profitable, everyone would be in on it and the problem would be solved.


"So, it would take almost 10 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of fuel. What happens to the water? Can it be reused and what does that cost?"

Yes the water is reused.

It takes 10 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of oil per year. The numbers they are using are conservative numbers for they have had much larger yields in their test labs.

Each crop of algae from start to harvest takes about 1 month.

This company and its products of Green Oil grown daily, Livestock feed and carbon usage does sound too good to be true, but I've been there and seen it.


I hope all the talk about algae is true, but it is a new and immature technology. Without all the rigor of fermentation, cellulose enzymes or even gasification and synthesis, we do not really know.

What if we went "all in" and said algae will provide at least some of our fuel, so lets drop everything and put it all on algae and then we end up with a lot of slimy ponds, no fuel and no money to develop any other alternative?

That would not be a desired outcome. It starts to sound like get rich quick money for nothing scam to me. I would need a LOT more rigorous proof before I would even consider investing in this.


"I would need a LOT more rigorous proof before I would even consider investing in this."

Part of the Proof is in the existence of "barrels" of Green Oil and Biodiesel. The Biodiesel that was used in the JB Hunt tests were made in their 2400 gallon test vats at their Chino Labs or grown at the farm and taken to the Chino labs for processing.

I do agree they need to prove that that they can make 40,000 gallons of day of oil from the 1300 acre feet of water they are currently growing the algae in.

They think they are on the verge of starting up their farm processing plant with its 10,000 gallon per minute processing system

We'll know within the next few months if they can achieve the same yield results on the farm as did in the test labs.


I hope they do, but I think you see my point, we need to get this right the first time. After countless recessions, a financial crisis and endless Pentagon draining of our resources, we have very little capital to go down the wrong path. If it is this simple, it will be what people call a "game changer" and the middle east will take notice.

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