The pioneering biofuels producer Solazyme recently made yet another important step towards its goal of offering a commercially and economically viable alternative to conventional sources of liquid fuels — the company has officially begun commercial production for the first time at its US facilities.
The two facilities — both the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) facility in Clinton, Iowa, and the American Natural Products (ANP) facility in Galva, Iowa — are expected to rapidly increase their production capacity over the next year/year and a half, potentially until they are handling up to 100,000 MT/yr.
Image Credit: Algae via Flickr CC
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ADM and ANP have successfully manufactured three distinct tailored oil products at the facilities, and products are currently being sold and distributed in both the US and Brazil. Volumes shipped to Brazil are being utilized for market development activity in advance of the opening of the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils Moema facility. Production at the ADM and ANP facilities is expected to ramp to a nameplate capacity of 20,000 MT/yr within 12-18 months, with targeted potential expansion to 100,000 MT/yr in subsequent years.
Truckloads of product are now shipping from the Iowa operations for use in applications including lubricants, metalworking and home and personal care. These shipments are being made pursuant to multiple supply agreements as well as spot purchases, and include reorders.
It’ll be interesting to see if Solazyme can perform to company expectations and become economically profitably. The technology of producing liquid fuels directly from algae is certainly an interesting one, but a number of important questions remain with regard to its economic viability.