California-based algae expert SunEco Energy has tested biodiesel from algal oil produced at its demonstration plant in Chino, California in the trucks of transportation logistics company J. B. Hunt. The biodiesel was tested in a B20 and a B50 blend and produced an 82% reduction in particulate emissions with no loss of power.
The company is now constructing the world’s first commercial-scale algal oil plant in a converted fish farm in Imperial Valley, California, and is seeking funds to scale up the technology in other plants around the world.
Following the tests, J. B. Hunt is interested in becoming a large-scale purchaser of the fuel: ‘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,’ says Gary Whicker, vice president of J. B. Hunt’s engineering department.
SunEco’s proprietary process is based on modifications to the environment of naturally occurring strains of algae that stimulate them to produce more oil. SunEco’s management had been dealing with algae for over 20 years from an environmental remediation standpoint and claims that this expertise allows it to manipulate the organism’s behaviour.