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How to Survive as a Biofuel-Maker: Sell Algae to Bakers [Slide Show]

Algal biofuels remain a distant prospect, but oil from algae might prove to be a more sustainable food

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FUEL FUTURE:

Despite the new focus on other algae products, like foodstuffs, Solazyme is still testing its algal biodiesel in a small fleet of Volkswagens available for employees to test drive. ....[ More ]

STARTER KIT:

Solazyme chief technology officer Peter Licari holds a tiny tube containing an algal starter strain that the company will use to start industrial production at facilities in the U.S. Midwest and, soon, Brazil.....[ More ]

GENETIC WORK:

The Solazyme team works to isolate the best strains and understand what genetic changes lead to the best performance. ....[ More ]

OIL BROTH:

Strains with desirable characteristics are put into large beakers and slowly fed sugar in the dark. The best strain swells up to be more than 80 percent oil, which is then harvested and crushed to extract the product.....[ More ]

GENETICS:

Getting the algae to produce exactly the oil desired requires genetic manipulation. Technicians place genes from other organisms (yeast, plants) into the algal genome, then test the resulting strains in one of the company's many benchtop labs.....[ More ]

OILS:

In addition to algalin, the company can tune its algae genetically to produce a wide range of oils, from an algal equivalent of crude oil to cosmetics. ....[ More ]

ALGAL FLOUR:

The big new product that Solazyme is testing and has had approved by food regulators is so-called "whole algal flour.” This is the residue of crushed algae that can be used to replace butter and eggs in breads or other foods.....[ More ]

FOOD FUTURE:

In 2003, Solazyme started out as a company that would grow algae in open ponds to produce hydrogen. By 2013, they had switched focus to growing algae in the dark, feeding it sugar, and selling the resulting oil and other products for food.....[ More ]

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