Company initiatives, Earnings, Presentation

Solazyme plant capacity online

Solazyme just published this You Tube video of their new 128,000-liter fermentation operation in Peoria, Illinois. The company said its algae-based oils production capacity is now online and based on my previous reports about the facility, the plant is expected to have a nameplate capacity of 2m liters/year of oil.

The facility was partially funded with a grant from the US Department of Energy to demonstrate commercial-scale production of renewable algal-based fuels.

Solazyme also mentioned on the video its planned 100,000 tonne/year algal oil production facility in Brazil in joint venture with US agribusiness firm Bunge. The algal oil facility will be adjacent to Bunge’s Moema sugarcane mill, and is expected to start operation in the fourth quarter of 2013 under the name Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renovรกveis Ltda.

The plant is expected to cost between $90m-$110m to build.

As you’ve heard from the video, there are various applications being developed for Solazyme algae oils ranging from cosmetics, fuels, lubricants to surfactants.

According to a presentation from Solazyme at the ICIS World Surfactants Conference held in New Jersey in late April, the company plans to introduce its lauric oils derived from algae in 2013. The algae-based lauric oils can replace lauric oils derived from palm kernel oil or coconut oil.

Solazyme can modify the fatty acid composition and saturation of its genetically engineered algae oils to produce lauric acid contents greater than 80%. The company estimates the market for palm kernel oil at $9.3bn (โ‚ฌ7.1bn) and coconut oil at $5.3bn as of 2011.

With revenues coming from its personal care (Algenist products) and nutritionals (via Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals) businesses, Solazyme seems to be doing much better than its peers. Here is a chart that I lifted from Seekingalpha.com depicting Solazyme’s target gross margins.

According to author Kevin Quon, Solazyme has just won approval of three additional patents for their microalgae in skin and personal care. In the first half of 2012, sales of Solazyme’s Algenist have reportedly surpassed the business’ entire sales for 2011.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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