Algae Chevron Backs Solazyme's Algae Biodiesel Production Process (+Video)

Published on January 22nd, 2008 | by Clayton

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Chevron Backs Solazyme's Algae Biodiesel Production Process (+Video)

solazymelogoIt’s been a big week for biofuel breakthroughs and new partnerships. While photographing the algae biodiesel cars outside Fields of Fuel yesterday, insiders I spoke with alluded to big news: I just learned that Chevron will be backing Solazyme to produce algae biodiesel (East Bay Business Times):

Chevron Corp. is accelerating its research into biofuel derived from algae. On Tuesday, Solazyme Inc. of South San Francisco announced an agreement with the Chevron subsidiary Chevron Technology Ventures to develop and test biodiesel feedstock made from algae.

The partnership will almost certainly rev up Solazyme’s production and research process, as will GM’s backing of Coskata ethanol. But I still have no information on how the algae will be grown. I’m getting the sense that this is almost cellulosic + algae = biodiesel, since these guys are talking about getting sugar from corn stover, switchgrass, wood chips, and sugarcane, then feeding it to algae to boost production. Take a look at this video from the film:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/q0oFv4n707w" width="425" height="355" wmode="transparent" /]

Sounds great, but the story has been frustratingly slow to divulge details. The only answer I’ve gotten to many questions (where does the sugar come from? how much water does the process use? how do you decouple photosynthesis? how much will it cost? etc.) comes from CNN:

For the time being, algae-based biodiesel remains prohibitively expensive, so the challenge for any company hoping to market it will be to lower the cost to within range of standard fuels. Wolfson said he believes Solazyme has already come a long way toward its goal of pushing the cost as low as $45 to $50 a barrel.

‘We have a high degree of confidence we can be to a commercial scale and commercial economics in two to three years,’ he said.

I’ll try and meet up with Wolfson and Dillon (founders of Solazyme) by Thursday to find out more about this process and the announcement.


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About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.



  • Terry Yeung

    Interesting… they claim to be able to use non-food based sources for the sugar. So either they have to do something to the cellulosic feedstock to make the sugar first or their algae strain is able to process cellulose directly. If the later is true, that’s a pretty big deal.

  • Terry Yeung

    Interesting… they claim to be able to use non-food based sources for the sugar. So either they have to do something to the cellulosic feedstock to make the sugar first or their algae strain is able to process cellulose directly. If the later is true, that’s a pretty big deal.

  • Terry Yeung

    Interesting… they claim to be able to use non-food based sources for the sugar. So either they have to do something to the cellulosic feedstock to make the sugar first or their algae strain is able to process cellulose directly. If the later is true, that’s a pretty big deal.

  • http://gas2.org Clayton B. Cornell

    It certainly seems like a big deal, but a lot of details need to be fleshed out. I’m surprised more hasn’t been released yet…

  • http://gas2.org Clayton B. Cornell

    It certainly seems like a big deal, but a lot of details need to be fleshed out. I’m surprised more hasn’t been released yet…

  • http://gas2.org Clayton B. Cornell

    It certainly seems like a big deal, but a lot of details need to be fleshed out. I’m surprised more hasn’t been released yet…

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  • Frank Cas

    I am an aquaculturist/fishery biologist by profession and I want to know how do we go about this algae processing into biofuel. Do you have the systematic process from algae to fuel. I would appreciate if we could make a tie-up because I have knowledge on how to grow microalgae but not on the process to fuel. I have 2-hectare fish farm with concrete tanks in the Philippines and also operating gas stations. At present I am growing my amicroalgae for fish food purposes. Although, if there is ppotential good profit on AgaeFuel, I am willing to shift my operations too.

    It is everyone’s dream to have low cost fuel to maximize its savings from transportation expenses and most especially to the production cost of primary commodities such as food, clothing and shelter including saving the degradation of environment.Thank you.

  • Frank Cas

    I am an aquaculturist/fishery biologist by profession and I want to know how do we go about this algae processing into biofuel. Do you have the systematic process from algae to fuel. I would appreciate if we could make a tie-up because I have knowledge on how to grow microalgae but not on the process to fuel. I have 2-hectare fish farm with concrete tanks in the Philippines and also operating gas stations. At present I am growing my amicroalgae for fish food purposes. Although, if there is ppotential good profit on AgaeFuel, I am willing to shift my operations too.

    It is everyone’s dream to have low cost fuel to maximize its savings from transportation expenses and most especially to the production cost of primary commodities such as food, clothing and shelter including saving the degradation of environment.Thank you.

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