by Mariah Valerie Barber
In early February 2014, in Galva, Iowa at the American Natural Products (ANP) facility and in Clinton, Iowa, at the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Solazyme, Inc., began its commercial production of algal biofuel and oil. Solazyme, a San Francisco based firm utilizes microalgae, which it refers to as “the world’s original oil producer,” in order to produce biofuel (Solazyme.com). Solazyme creates oil from microalgae by a process of industrial fermentation, during which the microalgae is not fed with solar energy, but with sugar, which results in the production oil. Using industrial fermentation speeds up the natural chemical processes, which algae undergo. Once the microalgae produce the oil, the oil is extracted and made ready for commercial use. Even before the facilities in Iowa opened, Solazyme has had facilities in both Peoria and Orindiúva, Brazil. Peoria has the capacity to manufacture 2,000 metric tons of oil per year whereas the new facilities now are each able to produce 100,000 metric tons of oil per year (Clean Technica.com). Solayzme, which claims to be the first oil producer, has potential to drastically transform the oil industry and its reliance on fossil fuels.
Despite the fact that Solazyme has potential to eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels and all of the negative environmental impacts that are associated with their extraction and production, the stocks and investment in the company have been steadily declining for the last year (Ashburn Daily.com). Since opening its commercial facilities in the beginning of 2014, Solazyme has not yet been producing at its capacity of 100,000 metric tons of oil per year (Solazyme.com). Additionally, because fossil fuel oil prices are extremely low, demand for Solazyme may have gone down. Currently Solazyme is not making much profit but has a substantial amount of operating capital. Many people believe that the profits of Solazyme and the prominence of its commercial use with take several years to become visible.
Solazyme, Inc. (http://solazyme.com/innovation/?lang=en)