October 10, 2009

U.S. Defense Dept Taps Solazyme for Algae-Derived Jet Fuel

The U.S. Navy has ordered up 1,500 gallons of 100% algae-derived jet fuel from California’s Solazyme, Inc.

The DoD last week tapped the California company to produce the fuel for testing and certification. The contract calls for delivery next year.

This is the second Navy contract for Solazyme, a leader in algal synthetic biology, which earlier this month was awarded a separate contract to provide R&D and delivery of over 20,000 gallons of renewable, algae-derived F-76 Naval distillate fuel for use in Navy ships.

Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson told Reuters the ship fuel contract was worth $8.5 million, while the jet fuel contract was worth about $200,000. Wolfson said the contracts were “a step on the road to broad-scale adoption.”

The Navy will test the biofuel in an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Patuxent River, Maryland by next spring or summer, according to an August article on the Navy’s official web site.

The article quotes Rick Kamin, Navy fuels lead, as saying that before “biofueling” the plane, the team will first conduct laboratory and rig tests at Patuxent River, followed by static engine tests with the Super Hornet’s F414 engine on a test stand at the Lynn, Massachusetts facility of manufacturer General Electric. Kamin said the tests would probably take place in December or January.

In fulfilling the jet fuel contract, Solazyme will use its large-scale algal renewable oil production process in conjunction with renewable jet fuel processing technology from Honeywell’s UOP.

Established in San Francisco in 2003, Solazyme’s backers include Braemar Energy Ventures, Harris & Harris Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Roda Group and Vantage Point Venture Partners.

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