J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America, and algal oil producer SunEco Energy signed a cooperative agreement, which could lead to J.B. Hunt becoming a significant purchaser of biodiesel made from natural algae oil using SunEco Energy’s proprietary technology. J.B. Hunt runs about 10,000 tractors in its fleet, and burns some 100 million gallons of fuel per year.
The two companies conducted a series of successful tests using biodiesel made by SunEco Energy from 100% natural algae oil produced at the company’s pilot plant in Chino, California. These tests, using a 20% and 50% blend of algae biodiesel with petroleum diesel, measured an 82% reduction in particulate emissions with no loss of power compared to ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD).
The SunEco A-50 blend showed an opacity measurement of 2.5%, compared to the typical petroleum diesel opacity of 14%.
Finding alternative energy sources to put in our fuel tanks is good business for our company and our nation. SunEco’s innovative process to produce renewable fuel supplies from algae grown in American ponds is an intriguing new option. Our initial experience with their algae-based biodiesel is promising, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with SunEco Energy to move towards a lower cost, less carbon intensive, and more secure energy supply for our business.—Gary Whicker, senior vice president of engineering for J.B. Hunt
SunEco’s proprietary technology utilizes naturally occurring algae strains in a monitored environment to produce an oil product suitable for making renewable transportation fuels and other oil-based products, and, as a byproduct of the process, a high-quality animal feed supplement. SunEco is currently raising additional funding to enable the large scale deployment of the technology in US and international markets, including a large development in the Imperial Valley region of California.
The initial commercial product to be produced by SunEco is a de-watered, de-gummed biocrude algal oil. This product is suitable to be refined into biodiesel or to be mixed up to 50% with petroleum products to produce renewable diesel. In a fully discounted model, using its proprietary technology for the growth and harvesting of native algae species in open ponds , SunEco claims it can currently produce at least 33,000 gallons of biocrude per acre-foot per year.
On its current acreage, at the present stage of cultivation without the implementation of all of its technology, the company expects yields of 40,000 gallons per day to be shipped to various biodiesel refineries in Southern California.
Once algae production is ramped up and permitting for on-site processing is completed in the fourth quarter of 2009, the major algal oil product to be produced will be SunEco straight vegetable oil (SVO), refined from biocrude at a 1:1 ratio resulting again in 33,000 gallons per acre-foot per year.
This product can be directly mixed with low sulfur petroleum diesel up to a ratio of 50% with an increase in lubricity and with no loss in BTUs or cetane and no change in cloud point. It can also be directly refined into a high-quality biodiesel meeting all of the specifications for ASTM B100 biodiesel.
The SunEco technology has been in development for more than five years, with an operating pilot facility over the past two years.