What Makes Our Microalgae Unique

Microalgae are the world’s original oil producers and the ancestors from which all plants have descended. After screening more than ten thousand microalgae strains, Solazyme researchers isolated a few truly unique strains on which we based our technology. Our main oil-producing microalgae strain, which is the basis for most of our products, was originally discovered over a century ago on the sap of a chestnut tree in Germany. It is naturally white, lives off of a wide variety of plant sugars and can grow without any light. Unlike many microalgae that commonly grow in ponds and rely on sunlight to grow, 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.

 

How We Make Oil and Whole Algal Products From Microalgae

With a breakthrough production process, Solazyme is revolutionizing the way the world makes oil. We’re working to tackle some of today’s biggest issues — such as sustainably harvested oil and resource scarcity — with microalgae, the world’s original oil producer. Solazyme’s manufacturing process can produce a wide range of products from a variety of sugar feedstocks at a single manufacturing facility using standard industrial equipment, thus providing exceptional input, output and capital flexibility.

We begin our process by selecting one of our microalgae strains to produce a specific oil or whole algal product, such as AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Protein. Then, through industrial fermentation, the microalgae convert sugars into the desired oil or whole algal product. Fermentation helps accelerate microalgae’s natural biological processes, allowing Solazyme to produce large amounts of a desired product in a matter of days. After fermentation, the microalgae go through a few final steps depending on the product, such as drying or standard mechanical oil extraction, before being shipped to our customers in a variety of markets. With this contained process, we can decouple the production of oil from geography and reduce the ecosystem damage that unsustainable oils have caused around the world. Thus, our algal oils can replace fossil fuels at one end of the spectrum and unsustainable plant based oils at the other.  

Some of our oils, and all of our whole algal products, are made from native microalgae strains. These native strains are selected through a rigorous screening process in which we look at thousands of microalgae seeking properties that translate into product benefits for our customers. Other companies have used similar strain-screening processes for decades to make products such as DHA, the Omega-3 algal oil, found in infant formula. Solazyme products made using native microalgae strains include AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Flour and AlgaVia™ Whole Algal Protein food ingredients, and Alguronic Acid®, Solazyme’s original algae-derived ingredient used in Algenist® skin care products.

Sometimes our customers request specific oils that cannot be efficiently produced in native algae strains. In this case, we can optimize a strain to provide significant product performance benefits such as safety, sustainability or health advantages — for example, an oil with a higher flash point to improve the safety of lubricants or a more sustainable and healthier alternative to palm oil. In order to make these oils, we use traditional biotechnology tools including standard genetic engineering techniques that were developed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to produce biopharmaceuticals.

When we use traditional genetic engineering techniques, we begin with a native strain or one selected through classical strain improvement. To make the desired oil profile, we work within the microalgae’s natural oil producing pathways. We may introduce one or sometimes a few genes from a plant with desired properties, or we might make only modest changes to the microalgae’s existing genes, for example, shutting off production of an undesired oil component. As an example, when developing a heart-healthy oil, we might add a natural sunflower gene that increases production of monounsaturated fats, while shutting off a gene in the algae that encourages production of saturated fat. It is important to note that Solazyme’s oils are not themselves genetically engineered, but rather the oils are made by microalgae that have been modified using traditional genetic engineering techniques.

Traditional genetic engineering techniques have been used for decades by a number of companies across the globe to produce ingredients for widely used products, including enzymes in laundry detergents that break up stains, rennet substitutes to produce the majority of cheeses, Vitamin C and other key nutrients used to make healthier and better products for people, as well as insulin for diabetics. Those Solazyme products that are made using traditional genetic engineering techniques include high stability high oleic oil, lauric oils and structuring fats.  For example, our high stability, high oleic oil is a nutritional breakthrough and one of the healthiest oils in existence.  It is very low levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, zero transfats, rich in healthy omega 9 fatty acids, and low in saturated fats.

Where Our Oils and Whole Algal Products Are Used

Algae-derived oils and whole algal products can revolutionize virtually every product we touch in our daily lives.

Oil Families

Solazyme groups its algal oils into families based on their distinct uses and properties. Announced oil families currently include:

 

Oleic Family

Solazyme’s oleic family offers best in class levels of oleic acid (C18:1) and low levels of polyunsaturates (C18:2, C18:3), providing benefits such as high lubricity, stability, renewability, low VOC and biodegradability.

 
 

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.

 
 

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.

 
 

Structured 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.

 

Whole Algal Products

Solazyme transforms whole-cell microalgae into sustainable products and ingredients for multiple markets. Whole algal products currently include:

 

ALGAVIA Whole Algal Flour

Whole Algal Flour is a lipid-rich ingredient that can replace or reduce dairy fat, egg yolks and oil in recipes. Whole Algal Flour reduces fat, cholesterol and calories with the added benefits of texture enhancement, water binding and flavor delivery.

 
 

ALGAVIA Whole Algal Protein

Whole Algal Protein is a new vegan protein source that can be added to a broad range of applications. A non-allergenic, gluten-free and sustainable source of high-quality protein, Whole Algal Protein also contains fiber, lipids, carbohydrates and micronutrients.

 
 

Encapsulated Lubricants

The Encapso family of products offer the world’s first targeted friction inhibitors, delivering superior lubrication on demand while providing biodegradability and other environmental benefits. For Encapso sales inquiries, visit http://encapso.com.

 

Manufacturing

Solazyme facilities can be located virtually anywhere in the world and can use a wide variety of inputs, from sugarcane to switchgrass. Our platform frees oil production from the limitations imposed by seasonality and geography, eliminating volatile costs and the environmental damage that comes with traditional oil sources, while providing a traceable supply chain.

Peoria was Solazyme’s first wholly-owned renewable oil production facility. The facility’s integrated biorefinery was partially funded by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to demonstrate commercial-scale production of algal-based fuels. Today, 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.

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.

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.

Peoria was Solazyme’s first wholly-owned renewable oil production facility. The facility’s integrated biorefinery was partially funded by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to demonstrate commercial-scale production of algal-based fuels. Today, 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.

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.

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.

 

Microalgae. Macro Solutions. At Solazyme we transform microalgae, the smallest of organisms, into solutions for the worlds biggest problems.