by Sabah Elsheikh and Gabriela Diaconu
The main algal strain Solazyme uses was discovered growing on the sap of a chestnut tree in Germany. It is white, grows off a variety of plant sugars, and grows without light. Solazyme’s microalgae can natively convert sugars directly into oils and other whole algal products in closed fermentation tanks, offering a highly efficient, pure and controlled production environment.
Although many strains of algae used by Solazyme have no alteration, some have been genetically modified to either produce more oil than they normally would, or to produce a higher quality oil. This is done using traditional biotechnology tools, where a new gene is either inserted or an unbeneficial one is turned off. This allows the algae to produce the best oils and achieve the highest possible output.

Why Microalgae is a good source of oils

Microalgae has been around for millions of years, producing the worlds first oils. At Solazyme, their Microalgae are capable of producing 80% oil. The Algae are fed sugars from a variety of sources: sugarcane, corn & stover, miscanthus, switchgrass, forest residues, and waste streams.

  • Oleic Family: Solazyme’s oleic family offers best in class levels of oleic acid and low levels of polyunsaturates, which means high lubricity, stability, renewability, low VOC and biodegradability.
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  • Lauric Family: Solazyme’s lauric family includes oils with a first-in-kind composition of fatty acid chain lengths that are differentiated from palm kernel and coconut oils by accentuating specific targeted fatty acids between C10 and C14, all while retaining the structuring characteristics of those oils.

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  • Mid-Chain Family: Solazyme’s mid-chain oils target optimized levels of C8 (caprylic acid) and C10 (capric acid). As an example, one unique and valuable oil in this family already has over 50% C8-C10. Before this oil was created, the only way to arrive at a comparable oil was extensive and expensive chemical processing.
  • Saturated Fats Family: Solazyme’s ability to control the position of fatty acids has enabled the production of a first-in-kind algal butter with a structure similar to cocoa butter, resulting in a true “Chocolate” melting profile and mouth feel.
  • Long Chain Family: Solazyme’s long chain family includes the current development of highly unique oils with high levels of erucic acid (C22:1), with the benefit of not having to segregate high erucic rapeseed oil from the food supply.


  • AlgaVia Whole Algal Flour: AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Flour is a lipid-rich powerhouse ingredient that can replace or reduce dairy fat, egg yolks and oil in recipes while providing incredible texture and mouth feel. Enabling the formulation of healthier products, AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Flour reduces fat, cholesterol and calories with the added benefits of texture enhancement, emulsification, water binding, and flavor delivery.
  • AlgaVia Whole Algal Protein: AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Protein is a revolutionary new vegan protein source that can be readily added to a broad range of applications to provide protein fortification and increased nutrition. A non-allergenic, gluten-free and sustainable source of high-quality protein, AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Protein also contains fiber, lipids, carbohydrates and micronutrients, representing a truly innovative whole food ingredient.

  • Soladiesel BD:A 100% algae-derived biodiesel, Soladiesel BDR can be used with factory-standard diesel engines without modification. The fuel significantly outperforms ultra-low sulfur diesel in total THC, carbon monoxide and particulate matter tailpipe emissions and also demonstrates better cold temperature properties than any commercially available biodiesel.
  • Soladiesel RD: A 100% algae-derived renewable diesel fuel, Soladiesel RDR is a drop-in alternative to standard diesel fuels that meets ASTM D 975. Chemically indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel, the fuel’s tailpipe emissions also release fewer particulates and meet the new American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for ultra-low sulfur diesel.
  • SolaJet:A renewable aviation fuel refined from Solazyme’s algal oil, Solajet™ is the world’s first microbially-derived jet fuel to meet key industry specifications for commercial aviation, ASTM D 1655. Solajet is compatible with existing infrastructure while offering key benefits, including a faster, farther and greater payload; reduced wing heat stress; lower flammability; lower smoke emissions; longer storage life; and ultimately, lower maintenance cost.
  • Military Grade: Since 2008, Solazyme has partnered with the US Navy and the Department of Defense to develop, test and certify advanced drop-in renewable fuels that meet their strictest standards. Specifically, Solazyme has developed jet fuel, marine diesel and on-road diesel that have been rigorously tested by the U.S. Navy and shown to meet its HRD-76 and HRJ-5 military specifications. We are proud that Solazyme fuels were used as the reference fuels during the Navy’s successful multi-year certification process for renewable marine diesel fuel.

  • Oleochemicals: Used broadly throughout the chemical, home and personal care industries, oleochemicals are typically derived from plants or animal fats. Companies use oleochemicals to create surfactants, detergents, soaps, cosmetics, lubricants and more. Oleochemicals derived from Solazyme’s unique oils and ingredients can be incorporated directly into industrial operations or used to replace or enhance existing ingredients.
  • Functional Fluids: Spanning a wide range of non-fuel industrial applications, functional fluids include lubricants, hydraulic fluids, solvents, drying agents and heat transfer fluids such as dielectric fluids. Functional fluids derived from Solazyme’s unique oils and ingredients are valued for their tailored physical and chemical properties and low environmental impact.
  • Encapso: The Encapso family of products offers the world’s first true targeted friction inhibitors, delivering superior lubrication on demand while offering biodegradability and other environmental benefits.

SOLAZYME Industrial

  • Algenist: The scientists behind Algenist were studying microalgae as a source of sustainable energy when they came across a revolutionary discovery: Alguronic Acid®. This compound is produced by microalgae to protect and regenerate the organism in harsh conditions. Compared to other well-known clinical skincare ingredients, Alguronic Acid shows superior anti-aging effects, including visibly reduced wrinkles and smoother, firmer, more radiant looking skin.
  • Everdeep: EverDeep® is a new anti-aging skincare program that transforms skin with the power of the Algasome™ complex, a rich and concentrated source of amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. The result of 10 years of research, the Algasome complex delivers the rejuvenating essence of microalgae, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and visibly restoring skin’s strength and youthful appearance.

Solazyme has facilities in three locations:
  • Peoria, IL. : This facility is commercially producing cosmetic and food ingredients, as well as providing routine production of multi-ton sampling and commercial quantities. Peoria has a nameplate capacity of nearly 2,000 metric tons per year.
  • Clinton/Galva, IA: Solazyme began commercial scale production in Clinton, IA in early 2014, after reinstating a formerly idled fermentation facility. The Clinton location serves as a commercial-scale operation for the company, producing oils for a wide range of industries and partners. Clinton has a nameplate capacity of 20,000 metric tons of oil per year, with the potential to expand to 100,000 metric tons of oil per year. The companion downstream processing facility is owned by our partner ANP, and is located in Galva, IA.
  • Orindiuva, Brazil: Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils is our joint venture with longtime partner, Bunge. Located in Orindiúva, Brazil, this commercial manufacturing facility is co-located with Bunge’s Bonsucro® sugarcane mill. The facility is also powered by bagasse, and built to produce surplus energy that may be fed back to the grid, making it a closed-loop system. At full nameplate capacity, the facility is expected to produce 100,000 metric tons of oil per year.

What common products contain oils from Solazyme?

What other companies are doing the same thing?
  • The renewable products company, Amyris, uses yeasts to sustainably produce alternatives to petroleum-sourced products.
Link to Amyris website:

Green Chemistry Principles:

In 2014, Solazyme won the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its work with Microalgae.
These are some of the 12 Green Chemistry Principles that apply to Solazyme's oil production.

2. Maximize atom economy: Design syntheses so that the final product contains the maximum proportion of the starting materials. Waste few or no atoms.
7. Use renewable feedstocks: Use starting materials (also known as feedstocks) that are renewable rather than depletable. The source of renewable feedstocks is often agricultural products or the wastes of other processes; the source of depletable feedstocks is often fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, or coal) or mining operations.

Example of Conventional Oil Production
Olive Oil Production