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Solazyme Hopes to Mass-Produce Algae Biodiesel in Three Years


I’ve often thought that algae could be one of the keys to our energy future, and now I’m more convinced than ever. In a conference call earlier today, Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson said that his company is capable of producing millions of gallons of biodiesel derived from algae within 3 years.

Solazyme is the first company to produce algae diesel that meets US standards, but until today their production timeline was unknown.

“The technology is moving a lot quicker than some people would expect,” Wolfson said.

Most companies working with algal fuel grow algae in open ponds, harvest the plant, and squeeze the oil out, but Solazyme takes a different approach. The company grows algae in the dark in large tanks by feeding it with biomass. The algae then eat the biomass and turn it into natural oils.

According to Wolfson, the logic behind this approach is that it works with the existing biofuel infrastructure. “We produce oils on the fuel side that can go straight into the refining structure,” he said.

With so many fuel technologies having excruciatingly long timelines, it’s encouraging to see a company working on the fast track.

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was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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