DRIVE: California's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program


Solazyme, Inc.

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Through this agreement, Solazyme is designing and configuring a pilot scale oil production facility plant in South San Francisco that is modeled after a converted corn ethanol plant. Solazyme's innovative heterotrophic algae growth process uses fermentation equipment similar - but not identical - to corn ethanol facilities to renewably produce oils that can be refined into a multitude of products including clean fuels and chemicals. The objective of this project is to advance the commercialization of large scale algal oil production by demonstrating the feasibility of converting an existing, idled ethanol facility for use in the production of higher value, low carbon oils. The renewable oil will be refined to renewable diesel meeting ASTM specifications for D975, and this material, produced from California feedstocks, will be tested for its impact on engine performance and emissions.

Grant Amount

$1,472,638 from the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program

Match Funding

$2,728,026 from the project participants

Project Benefits

Successful completion of this project will: Demonstrate the ability to convert a corn ethanol facility into a renewable oil production facility, thereby demonstrating the potential to modify production facilities producing lower value ethanol into facilities that can produce higher-value renewable oils, which can be refined into advanced biofuels. Ethanol is a fuel additive with limited uses and modest environmental benefits, whereas renewable diesel is a higher value product that can provide a "drop-in" alternative to conventional petroleum with significant environmental benefits.

Solazyme's advanced biofuels reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by 66-93% when compared to conventional petroleum based fuels. These fuels meet the ultra low sulfur diesel standard for California, and also have lower emissions of criteria air pollutants, including NOx.

Grant Agreement Number: ARV-10-047

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