Algae-Biodiesel Maker Looking at Food Biz

John Davis

solazyme-logoThe food-versus-fuel debate gets a bit of a twist as an algae-biodiesel maker decides it will make fuel AND food.

This story in the San Francisco Business Times says the Bay area’s Solazyme, which has been working on turning algae into biodiesel for the past seven years, recently has been developing the nutritionals side of its business and could have products out in 2010:

The decision to diversify into foods came almost by accident as the company successfully got algae to excrete oils, said chief technology officer and co-founder Harrison Dillon.

“We were running lipid profiles (on the algae) and observing that, ‘Wow this looks like olive oil,’” Dillon said. “Epiphany No. 2 was, ‘let’s stop thinking about ourselves as a diesel fuel company and starting thinking of ourselves as a renewable oil company.’”

Once Solazyme discovered the range of uses for algae oil, it structured its business in three units: fuels and chemicals; food products; and health sciences which includes cosmetics. Foods will likely be among the first products to market for the company, giving it some leeway — and revenue — before it can commercialize its fuels.

Some of the first food products being developed by Solazyme include mustard, a milk substitute and flour.

The diversity of their products should help Solazyme weather the current tough times the biodiesel industry is going through.

algae, Biodiesel