Algae-based chemicals producer Solazyme announced two production milestones last week: a successful commissioning of its fully-integrated biorefinery in Peoria, Illinois, US; and the start of construction of its Brazilian biorefinery under the Bunge-Solazyme joint venture.
The Peoria facility’s 128,000-liter fermentation operation has been up and running since the fourth quarter of 2011 producing algal oils, but Solazyme said the facility has now been able to demonstrate commercial-scale production of algal-based fuels.
“The demonstration/ commercial-scale plant will have a nameplate capacity of 2m liters/year of oil and will provide an important platform for continued work on feedstock flexibility and scaling of new tailored oils into the marketplace.” – Solazyme
The biorefinery was partially funded with a grant from the US Department of Energy to demonstrate commercial-scale production of renewable algal-based fuels, according to Solazyme.
In Brazil, Solazyme and its JV partner Bunge Global Innovation have broken ground on a 100,000 tonne/year algal oil production facility adjacent to Bunge’s Moema sugarcane mill.
Startup of the plant is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. The facility will operate under Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renovaveis Ltda. The plant is expected to cost between $90m-$110m to build.
According to a presentation from Solazyme at the ICIS World Surfactants Conference held in New Jersey in late April, the company plans to introduce its lauric oils derived from algae in 2013. The algae-based lauric oils can replace lauric oils derived from palm kernel oil or coconut oil.
Solazyme can modify the fatty acid composition and saturation of its genetically engineered algae oils to produce lauric acid contents greater than 80%. The company estimates the market for palm kernel oil at $9.3bn (€7.1bn) and coconut oil at $5.3bn as of 2011.