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Algae Derived Bio Fuel Arrives at Retail Pumps

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Beginning November 13th 2012, Propel Fuels, a California Bay Area retailer of renewable fuels and Solazyme, Inc. the renewable oil and bioproducts company, are selling algae-derived B-20 diesel fuel to retail pumps for the first time in history.

Solazyme Propel SolaDiesel B20 Retail Pump. Click image for the largest view.

The product is called Soladiesel®BD that has 20% Solazyme algae sourced biodiesel combined with regular diesel fuel.  The product is available to drivers at some of Propel’s Bay Area retail renewable fuel locations over a month-long pilot program.  The offering provides the industry’s first opportunity to test consumer response to an advanced renewable fuel.  The fuel will be sold at the same price as conventional diesel fuels and will be available exclusively at Propel’s Clean Fuel Points locations in Redwood City, San Jose (N. First St.), Berkeley, and Oakland.

Solazyme’s high quality algae-based SoladieselBD meets or exceeds ASTM quality specifications and has shown performance enhancements including cold temperature operating performance. The fuel is compatible with existing diesel engines and the fuel’s performance is guaranteed by Propel.

An enthused Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels said, “Propel is committed to providing our customers with access to the highest quality, most sustainable, domestically produced fuels, so we’re proud to introduce the next generation of fuels to the retail market. Propel’s growing station network provides the critical link between these future fuels and today’s consumer fuel tanks, giving our customers a chance to make history.”

Solazyme’s widely admired and leading technology converts plant sugars into oils by feeding the sugars to microalgae in standard industrial fermentation equipment. The algae consume the sugars and convert them into oils rapidly and efficiently taking only a few days. Testing undertaken by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that, in a 20% blend, SoladieselBD significantly outperforms ultra-low sulfur diesel in total hydrocarbons (THC), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter tailpipe emissions. The results show an approximate 30% reduction in particulates, a 20% reduction in CO and an approximate 10% reduction in THC.

Bob Ames, VP of Fuels, Solazyme adds, “Solazyme’s revolutionary algae-based technology platform has supplied our development partners and customers with advanced biofuels that meet or exceed some of the world’s most stringent fuels specifications and requirements. We’ve successfully demonstrated our land-based fuels in fleet vehicles and corporate busses, and are excited about this pilot program with Propel because it enables us to make these fuels available to the public.”

Solazyme, Inc. is a renewable oil and bioproducts company that transforms a range of low-cost plant-based sugars into high-value oils. Headquartered in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s renewable products can replace or enhance oils derived from the world’s three existing sources – petroleum, plants and animal fats.

Reports have it that Solazyme’s lead microalgae strains produce oil for the fuels and chemicals markets achieve key performance metrics that the firm believes would allow them to manufacture oils today at a cost below $1,000 per metric ton ($3.44 per gallon or $0.91 per liter) if produced in a built-for-purpose commercial plant.

The news is a serious milestone.  Solazyme has already entered into non-binding offtake agreements with Dow Chemical purchasing up to 20 million gallons (76 million liters) of Solazyme’s oils in 2013, rising to up to 60 million gallons (227 million liters) by 2015. Qantas will purchase a minimum of 200 to 400 million liters of Solazyme’s jet fuel per year.

Solazyme has produced over 283,000 liters of military-spec diesel (HRF-76) for U.S. Navy contract.  The U.S. Navy has indicated its intent to exercise its phase 2 option for another 267,000 liters.  The fuels successfully tested in a Riverine Command Boat and MS 60S Seahawk helicopter demonstration.

Solazyme has technology proven at scale.  Next up is proving the technology in the market. This time it’s a lot more about marketing skill than technology.

That suggests that the Propel deal is a good idea.  Propel builds and operates a network of green-built filling stations providing convenient access to American, low carbon fuels and clean mobility solutions. The company offers consumers and fleets new fuel choices that make progress toward reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs, and lowering America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Propel has developed CleanDrive®, the nation’s first integrated carbon emission reduction tracking platform, and is the only fueling company in the country to enable drivers to offset their emissions at the pump through their CarbonOffset program.

News reports have Propel looking quite successful.

If you’re in the area with a diesel you might want to check the price and hopefully, fill up.  The technology and investment are still quit young and need any little boost possible.




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