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Fuel-from-algae shines at Sundance

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Algae and beer might be more similar than you thought (although Greenbang would warrant only one of them tastes good with a packet of dry roasted and the cup final).

Biofuel company Solazyme sees the link. When it makes fuel out of algae, it uses a process similar to industrial brewing.

Algae-brewing aside, it’s been a bit of news-week for Solazyme. On Tuesday, it announced what it claimed was the “first ever algae-derived biodiesel fuel to have undergone road testing by successfully powering a factory-standard automobile for long distances under typical driving conditions” which will debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

It also threw in a biodiesel feedstock development and testing agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures for good measure. It all went a little like this:

The algal biodiesel fueling the car is made through Solazyme’s proprietary process for manufacturing high-value, functionally-tailored oils from algae. This process, which uses standard industrial fermentation equipment, yields a biofuel that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is biodegradable, nontoxic and safe. Solazyme is currently producing thousands of gallons of algal oil and recently signed a biodiesel feedstock development and testing agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

“Biodiesel from algae changes the landscape of renewable fuels,” said Jonathan Wolfson, chief executive officer of Solazyme. “The concept of algal biofuel has been discussed for decades, and Solazyme’s technology finally provides a scalable solution based on proven industrial processes. This fuel is just the first example of how algal oil will help the environment through new products that offer attractive economics and performance, as well as environmental benefits.”

Soladiesel exceeds both the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) biodiesel standard D6751 and EN 14214, the European standard, which ensures that biodiesel can safely run any existing diesel engine. The car demonstrating Solazyme’s biofuel at Sundance is running on its original, factory-standard diesel engine with no modifications, and is powered by the highest blend of biodiesel that engine manufacturers currently certify. By operating in the typical sub-freezing temperatures for the area in January, it also illustrates how Soladiesel provides better temperature properties than any traditional biodiesel.

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