News 1524 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Solazyme joint venture brings algae plant to Brazil

Algae producer Solazyme is taking another step toward large-scale production of fuels and chemicals from algae with a joint venture with global agribusiness firm Bunge to build and operate a commercial-scale oils production plant in Brazil. In 2010, Bunge took an equity stake in Solazyme.

Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renováveis Ltda., will be located next to Bunge's Moema sugarcane mill in Brazil and will produce 100,000 tonnes of oil a year.
"Bunge is excited to partner with Solazyme to commercialize its innovative sugar-to-oil technology platform, which will enable us to link our sugar and vegetable oil value chains," says Ben Pearcy, Managing Director, Sugar & Bioenergy, and Chief Development Officer at Bunge.
"The tailored oils we expect to produce will not only expand our portfolio and address the growing demand of the fuels and oleochemicals industries, but also increase our capabilities to leverage new technologies for future opportunities in sugar and bioenergy."
The plant will use Solazyme's manufacturing process and then benefit from Bunge's global presence in sugar and vegetable oil markets, large-scale processing experience and significant footprint in Brazil. It will be equally financed by the two partners and be operational in late 2013.
Algae by fermentation
Separating the oil from algae has proven to be difficult and expensive. Solazyme's solution is to grow algae in closed, indoor tanks where it ferments by feeding on sugar rather than using lots of land required for photosynthesis.
This makes algae competitively priced with petroleum products, while also yielding byproducts derived from algae's protein and fibre. Importantly, Solazyme can generate commercial volumes in just several days.
Until the biofuels market takes off, Solazyme is first targeting the nutrition market, offering alternatives to eggs, butter and oils, and the cosmetics market, with anti-aging products, a key growth area.
The global market for biobased chemicals currently stands at about $170 (chemicals, plastics, fuels) and will grow to more than $500 billion by 2020, according to McKinsey.

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