Jet Fuel From Algae A Step Closer

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Solazyme, a San Francisco-based company, announced on Tuesday that it has produced fuel derived from algae that meets the Jet-A fuel standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The ASTM standards measure performance in areas such as density, stability, flashpoint, freezing point, distillation and viscosity. By meeting those criteria, the company said, it has shown that the fuel is compatible with existing engines and infrastructure, bringing it a step closer to commercial development. "We are excited to be the first advanced biofuel company to successfully make jet fuel from algal oil that passes the most critical ASTM D1655 (Jet A) standards," said Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson. "This announcement is proof of the advantages of our proprietary renewable oil production process to create highly tailorable oils and renewable fuels." The company is already producing thousands of gallons of oil using a unique process in which algae grow in large tanks quickly, efficiently and without sunlight. The algae feed on materials such as agricultural residues and high-productivity grasses as well as industrial byproducts. The oils they produce are low-carbon, nontoxic and safe, the company says.

The company recently announced that it had raised $45 million to fund its expansion and growth. Researchers at Arizona State University also have been working to create algae-based jet fuels, though their process is based on growing the algae in sunlight. Alternative fuels derived from algae have attracted serious attention from global companies such as Pratt & Whitney Canada, Virgin Atlantic, Boeing, Airbus, and others.