Solazyme makes oil. Through a revolutionary biotechnology platform that harnesses the prolific oil- producing ability of microalgae, the company has become a leading provider of tailored oils and bioproducts. Utilizing standard industrial fermentation equipment, Solazyme converts low-cost plant sugars into high-value oils in a scalable, reliable, and cost effective manner. The company's renewable oil production technology can replace or enhance oils derived from the world's three existing sources - petroleum, plant oils and animal fats - in an environmentally sustainable manner. Furthermore, Solazyme's unique platform is feedstock flexible, meaning that the company is able to utilize a wide variety of plant sugars - including cellulosics, sugarcane-based sucrose, corn-based dextrose, and other biomass sources - to produce their oils. Solazyme leverages their proprietary biotechnology platform to create tailored oils, which can meet specific customer requirements with superior performance characteristics at competitive costs. Solazyme's core capability to "tailor oils" refers to their ability to produce oil with specific desired chain lengths and saturation, among other profile enhancements, providing benefits and functionality beyond those typically available with traditional oils. These tailored oils address all the major markets served by conventional oils, including fuels, chemicals, nutrition, and skin and personal care.
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 the 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.
The Energy Commission is contributing $1,472,638.
Solazyme is contributing $2,728,026.
Solazyme, Inc. is a leading provider of tailored oils and bioproducts
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.
- Advance commercialization of renewable oil production technology. Construction of a commercial scale oil production facility requires a significant investment of capital. By proving the ability to modify a corn ethanol facility into a renewable oil production facility, the project will accelerate commercial prospects of this technology by significantly reducing capital costs by 1) utilizing currently underused facilities and 2) providing a design plan for the construction of a lower cost oil production facility than would otherwise be needed.
- The project will advance California's sustainability goals. 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.
- The project will advance California's economic development goals. The project will support agricultural jobs in support of California-grown feedstocks, construction jobs in the conversion and upgrading of existing facilities, and highly skilled renewable oil manufacturing jobs. The project will further California's place at the center of sustainable, clean fuel technology.
Grant Agreement Number: ARV-10-047