Solazyme Company recently contributed $52 M for algae fuel production. Solazyme has promoted algae based fuel to the market. Chevron and Japanese food manufacturer San-Ei Gen have also participated. Investor interest has substantially increased.
Solazyme has delivered 1,500 gallons of jet fuel made from algae. This was sent for certification. Solazyme is also producing food ingredients and health products so that oil from algae can be used as a substitute.
Large public companies are also investing in producing algae biodiesel fuels. Airlines and the U.S. military target large-scale production of oil from algal ponds converting it into jet fuel.
Production of biodiesel from algae is found to be the only feasible method which can totally replace petro-diesel. It has the capacity to produce high oil yield. Algae has high yield or oil per acre of cultivation. It is estimated that 10 million acres of land is necessary for biodiesel cultivation in US. This amounts to just 1% of total land used currently for farming and grazing in US (about 1 billion acres). There is no doubt that algae are superior feedstock for large scale biodiesel generation.
However, from a practical point of view, biodiesel production on a large scale basis from algae cultivation may take about 4 to 5 years.
Algae fuels production technology is commercially successful. However, the main constraint is algae cultivation problems. Large amounts of land space are required for high yield algae cultivation.
A new technique of increasing yield of algae by cultivating it in plastic containers is claimed to use seven times more algae, but presently this is just speculation.