Tag Archives: Solazyme

Five surprising things that can be made into fuel for your car

You may be familiar with the most common feedstocks for renewable fuel, but there is a whole host of lesser-known products that can be made into fuel for your car. Below we’ve listed  a few of our favorites.

1. CHRISTMAS TREES!

Xmastrees_1227

Once January rolls around, un-tinseled and de-decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalks, waiting for garbage trucks headed to the dump. But in some cities, like San Francisco, California, discarded trees are turned into more than just landfill fodder. Instead, the trees are processed into biomass, which can be used as a renewable fuel feedstock.

Photo credit:  CINDY CHEW/S.F. EXAMINER

2. SUNFLOWERS

sunflower

Sunflowers, as it turns out, aren’t just for brightening up long stretches of rural highway or yielding seeds for snacking and spitting: they can also help power your diesel car. Those same seeds you seed scattered under the bleachers at the local Little League diamond have a high oil content that makes an ideal biodiesel feedstock. Next to solar-powered vehicles, it just might be the closest you’ll get to running on sunshine.

3. ALGAE

These little photosynthesis machines are masters of turning sunlight and CO2 into energy. Industrious producers, like the fermenting engineers at Solazyme, can capture the processing power of algae to create a super-efficient source of  renewable oil. Last year, in a successful month long pilot program, Propel Fuels and Solazyme partnered up to launch the nation’s first publicly available algae-derived biodiesel at Propel stations across the Bay Area. Hopefully, a full-scale launch is in the near future.

Photo credit:  National Algae Association

4. CORN COBS

Forget the kernel, just give me the cob! Ethanol producers are developing methods to use agricultural waste, like corns cobs and stalks, as feedstock for producing cellulosic ethanol, an alcohol-based fuel. In fact, “Project Liberty,” a 20-million-gallon cellulosic fuel plant operated by POET is slated to open this year, and the resulting fuel can be plugged right into today’s growing network of ethanol retail stations.

Photo credit:  Domestic Fuel

5. ANIMAL FATS

Mazda6-tallow

Turns out you can make biodiesel from pretty much any fatty oil including the leftovers from rendering plants a.k.a tallow a.k.a animal fats. In fact, the diesel Mazda6 NASCAR racer was loaded up with some “chicken guts, beef tallow and pork lard” biodiesel for the Rolex 24 Endurance Race in Daytona this past spring. Perhaps the bumper sticker, “My Car Eats Meat” is apt?

Major Commercial Airlines Launch Biofuels Flights

Two commercial airlines are taking biofuels to the skies, and with a bit of competition in the air, biofuels for aviation are becoming a reality.

Just this morning, United Airlines launched the first commercial US flight operated by biofuels. Powered by Solazyme Solajet fuel, flight 1403 (a Boeing 737-800 Eco Skies aircraft) departed from Bush International Airport in Texas en route to Chicago O’ Hare International Airport in Illinois. The Solajet fuel used was a blend of 60% biofuels and 40% conventional petroleum-derived jetfuels.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines plans to launch its first regularly-scheduled route powered by biofuels this Wednesday, November 9. The carrier’s passenger flights from Seattle-to-Washtington, D.C. and Seattle-to-Portland will both be regularly fueled by a 20% used cooking oil-based biofuel blend from Dynamic Fuels. In total, Alaska (and its sister airline Horizon) will operate 75 biofueled flights over the next few weeks.

“This is a historic week for U.S. aviation. The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation’s future,” Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer was reported as saying in an article from Biofuels Digest. “What we need is an adequate, affordable and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it.”

To learn more about the future of biofuels in commercial aviation, read the full article at Biofuels Digest online.

Algae Realized

We’ve been hearing it for decades: the next breakthrough fuel technology is just around the corner. Hydrogen, electric, fuel cells–all have shown promise to free the world from its dependence on fossil fuels. Yet for one reason or another, we wait and wait for the automakers to catch up or the technology to perfected. Meanwhile, in a relatively short-span, researchers have developed a method of extracting oil from algae and converting it to a viable fuel source. What makes algal biodiesel different from the aforementioned panaceas? Consumers will not need to wait on Detroit to take advantage of it as the current and future fleet of diesel vehicles will be able to use it with no conversion required. More importantly, algae is a rapidly renewable biodiesel feedstock that does not compete with food sources like soy beans or corn. Leading the way is Solazyme, a bioenergy upstart out of San Francisco, in a unique partnership with Chevron. Unique because instead of eschewing the help of big oil, Solazyme founders Jonathan Wilson and Harrison Dillon embraced Chevron’s R&D muscle as way to accelerate algal-biodiesel’s path to widespread commercial use. For more information check out this post from Wired magazine, and be sure to watch the trailer to “Fields of Gold,” the biodiesel documentary produced by biodiesel advocate Josh Tickell.