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Solazyme and Dow form alliance for development of algae-derived oils for use in bio-based dielectric insulating fluids

Solazyme, Inc., a renewable oils and bioproducts company, has executed a joint development agreement (JDA) and a letter of intent (LOI) with The Dow Chemical Company to advance the development of Solazyme’s algal oils for use in next-generation, bio-based dielectric insulating fluids key to transformers and other electrical applications. (Dielectric fluids do not conduct an electric current under normal circumstances.)

Under the terms of the joint development agreement, Dow will combine its knowledge of specialty fluid formulations and dielectric insulation capabilities with Solazyme’s unique feedstock capabilities to develop of a new class of algal oils tailored for optimized performance and cost in dielectric insulating fluid applications. The non–binding LOI provides that Dow may obtain up to 20 million gallons of Solazyme’s oils for use in dielectric insulating fluids and other industrial applications in 2013 and up to 60 million gallons in 2015.

In the fast growing space of bio-based dielectric insulation fluids, Solazyme tailor-designed algal oils will serve as a foundation to develop a new generation of fluids that are fire safe, environmentally sound, and that provide overall increased performance to users of transformers and other electrical applications.

—Tim Laughlin, Dow Wire & Cable General Business Manager

In liquid-filled transformers, dielectric fluid provides insulation and cooling. Essential properties for a viable dielectric fluid are: volume resistivity; dielectric breakdown voltage (a measure of the liquid’s ability to withstand electric stress without failure); dielectric constant (relative permittivity); high thermal conductivity; high thermal capacity; and low viscosity.

Current choices for insulating fluids for transformers include mineral oil; high-temperature hydrocarbons; silicone fluids; and ester fluids (synthetic and natural—i.e., vegetable oil). Fluids used in the past include PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Solazyme’s technology allows algae to produce oil and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities quickly, efficiently and at large scale. These oils and biomaterials can be tailored not only for biofuel production, but also as replacements for fossil petroleum and plant oils in a diverse range of products running from clean fuels and chemicals to cosmetics and foods.



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