Friday, June 04, 2010

Soap from Algae? Seize the Day!

Algae can create a large amount of high quality bio-oils. But it is not currently economical to extract and refine algal oils for fuels. So more algae growers are turning to alternative uses for algae and algal oils -- besides fuels.
In March, Solazyme announced that it signed an R&D agreement with Unilever to develop oil derived from algae for use in soaps and other personal care products. The agreement follows the culmination of a yearlong collaboration between Solazyme and Unilever, in which Solazyme’s renewable algal oils were tested successfully in Unilever product formulations. Why it’s mighty: Unilever joins the algae race. Solazyme’s project not only adds a dimension – in this case soaps – to the co-product universe, it brings in an established global marketing player to an emerging field. It also might well confirm why Solazyme is felt by most to be gaining traction as fast as any company in the field. _Biofuelsdigest
This may seem silly to many advocates of biofuels, but rest assured that it is not in the least silly. In the real world of markets, products evolve in a vast market ecology along with thousands of other evolving products. As algal growers learn to grow algae more economically for cosmetics, nutraceuticals, foods and food additives, animal feeds, plastics, high value chemicals . . . and so on . . . and so on . . .

Eventually, the algal industry will be able to produce algal oils cheaply enough to sell them as fuels. Give them ten years. In the meantime, there will be thousands of other uses for algae and algal products. Some of them will make a number of lucky people into mega-millionaires.

Of course, the first ones to sell algal oils economically as fuels will easily become billionaires, and eventually trillionaires?



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