July 29, 2009

Algae Oil Running in Big Rigs, With Small Emissions

Written by Jeff Kart

Pond scum just got an upgrade.

SunEco Energy is working with J.B. Hunt Transport Services, a leading transportation company, to run trucks on biodiesel mixed with algae oil.

SunEco says a blend of 20 percent and 50 percent algae oil with petroleum biodiesel has cut particulate emissions by 82 percent.

The algae is grown in ponds and produced at a SunEco pilot plant in Chino, California.

The company has been working on a proprietary process for making the oil for more than five years, and has scaled it up from beakers to barrels, according to Dan Gautschi, chairman and CEO. The process yields a high-quality animal feed supplement as a byproduct.

J.B. Hunt provides transportation services to customers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The two companies have signed a cooperative agreement, which could lead to J.B. Hunt becoming a significant purchaser of biodiesel made from SunEco algae oil, officials say.

SunEco launched its first large scale project in California’s Imperial Valley, at a former fish farm near the town of Niland. The development sits on more than 350 acres of land, with 200 acres of ponds, and is under expansion.

Algae is an alternative feedstock when it comes to biodiesel, which is made mostly with soy oil in the United States. Production of biodiesel in the United States reached almost 500 million gallons in 2007, double the 2006 level, according to federal statistics.

(Image credits: SunEco and J.B. Hunt.)

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