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Published on June 11th, 2008 | by Nick Chambers

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Solazyme Makes First Algae Diesel to Meet Strict US Standard

Solazyme LogoSolazyme announced today that they have produced the first 100% algae-based renewable diesel to meet the strict American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D-975 specifications.

Called Soladiesel(RD)™, it is the world’s first 100% algal diesel blend to meet these standards.

The company has road-tested Soladiesel(RD)™ in a factory standard 2005 diesel Jeep Liberty with results that indicate identical usability and engine wear to that of petroleum diesel.

Soladiesel(RD)™ has lower particulate emissions than petroleum-based diesel and also meets the ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) standards.

Solazyme’s certification is a very important step in the commercialization of algae-based diesel. Many industries that depend on diesel fuel have been skeptical about what kind of damage alternative fuels such as biodiesel could cause to their expensive-to-repair rigs.

Technically, Soladiesel(RD)™ is not biodiesel — as was pointed out to me by Solazyme’s Chief Technology Officer, Harrison Dillon. According to Mr. Dillon, Soladiesel(RD)™ is chemically indistinguishable from petroleum diesel, which is why it has passed the same ASTM standards used for petroleum diesel and not the ASTM D6751 specifications used for biodiesel.

With the ASTM D-975 certification comes a needed step in putting the minds of truckers and related folks at ease.

We’ve covered Solazyme in detail before, but it still isn’t clear if their algal biodiesel process is nearing commercialization — leaving many unanswered questions. This in contrast to other algae-based biodiesel companies, such as PetroSun, which have apparently already started commercial production of algal biodiesel. This is what Mr.Dillon had to say about Solazyme’s future:

“As far as the road to commercialization: we currently do produce at scale, but expect that our product will be fully commercialized in 2-3 years.”

Solazyme’s novel algae biodiesel method grows algae in the absence of light. In nature, algae use light to make sugar and then make oil from that sugar. Solazyme skips the light part and just feeds their algae sugar to get them to make oil.

As noted in previous posts, this method achieves a 1000-fold increase in productivity, but has two obvious problems: no carbon is sequestered in the growing process, and it requires a source of sugar. That source is currently sugarcane, but Solazyme says cellulosic feedstocks could also be used at some future date.

View Solazyme’s press release here.

Posts related to Solazyme and the Algae Biodiesel Process




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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • Cervus

    Music to my ears.

  • Cervus

    Music to my ears.

  • Cervus

    Music to my ears.

  • emf

    Wait… they convert sugar to diesel? How is that not the same fundamental flaw as sugarcane ethanol? (or even corn ethanol) You don’t burn your food, people.

    Nice trick, i guess, but c’mon, anyone with an aquarium knows how easy it is to make algae with light.

  • emf

    Wait… they convert sugar to diesel? How is that not the same fundamental flaw as sugarcane ethanol? (or even corn ethanol) You don’t burn your food, people.

    Nice trick, i guess, but c’mon, anyone with an aquarium knows how easy it is to make algae with light.

  • http://ooyes.net website design

    ahh but alas it still needs sugarcane to feed the algae..but it would be better then taking corn away from world hunger ..humm

  • http://ooyes.net website design

    ahh but alas it still needs sugarcane to feed the algae..but it would be better then taking corn away from world hunger ..humm

  • http://ooyes.net website design

    ahh but alas it still needs sugarcane to feed the algae..but it would be better then taking corn away from world hunger ..humm

  • http://futbolrebel.blogspot.com/ George L

    looks like valcent’s vertigro is going to be the real winner on this one,they know what type of algae can produce airplane fuel or biodeisel.

    they use sunlight to grow the algae.to make it short,they seem to have a better idea and handle on algae since they can control the environment where it grows….

  • http://futbolrebel.blogspot.com/ George L

    looks like valcent’s vertigro is going to be the real winner on this one,they know what type of algae can produce airplane fuel or biodeisel.

    they use sunlight to grow the algae.to make it short,they seem to have a better idea and handle on algae since they can control the environment where it grows….

  • Samurai Fox

    As much as I hate the idea of using food for fuel, it sure beats the heck out of using sugar over corn any day. I approve.

  • Samurai Fox

    As much as I hate the idea of using food for fuel, it sure beats the heck out of using sugar over corn any day. I approve.

  • Samurai Fox

    As much as I hate the idea of using food for fuel, it sure beats the heck out of using sugar over corn any day. I approve.

  • Henry Gibson

    Much of the sugar used in the US comes from corn. Even corn is converted to sugar before it becomes ethanol.. Use coal not food. There is not enough food. There has never even been enough trees or even grass. Uranium, made by exploding stars to the rescue please. ..HG..

  • Henry Gibson

    Much of the sugar used in the US comes from corn. Even corn is converted to sugar before it becomes ethanol.. Use coal not food. There is not enough food. There has never even been enough trees or even grass. Uranium, made by exploding stars to the rescue please. ..HG..

  • Henry Gibson

    Much of the sugar used in the US comes from corn. Even corn is converted to sugar before it becomes ethanol.. Use coal not food. There is not enough food. There has never even been enough trees or even grass. Uranium, made by exploding stars to the rescue please. ..HG..

  • Uncle B

    Oil hit $147.23 bbl today, and another large bank (Indymac) failed. After the Fed adjust rates down, printing money,to cover this fiasco, and OPEC adjusts prices up to compensate, we will be paying well over $180.00 bbl. Anything that relives our energy pains in the horrendous depression to come must be welcomed. Before the bills for Iraq are all in, we will be damn glad to huddle in our foreclosed tents and rub sticks together for heat! Be grateful to the scientists who studied hard to get us these few drops of fuel. They may come in handy for running ambulances to take us to the asylums when we realize out how bad it really is!

  • Uncle B

    Oil hit $147.23 bbl today, and another large bank (Indymac) failed. After the Fed adjust rates down, printing money,to cover this fiasco, and OPEC adjusts prices up to compensate, we will be paying well over $180.00 bbl. Anything that relives our energy pains in the horrendous depression to come must be welcomed. Before the bills for Iraq are all in, we will be damn glad to huddle in our foreclosed tents and rub sticks together for heat! Be grateful to the scientists who studied hard to get us these few drops of fuel. They may come in handy for running ambulances to take us to the asylums when we realize out how bad it really is!

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