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Solazyme Delivers Algae-Fuel to Navy

Solazyme, a San Francisco-based renewable oil and bioproducts company, has begun delivery of its algae-based jet fuel to the U.S. Navy, according to a company press release.

The company said it has delivered 1,500 gallons of the algal-derived biofuel as part of the Navy’s efforts to shift its fuel consumption from traditional fossil fuels to more renewable resources. The Navy has previously announced a goal of operating at least 50 percent of its fleet on clean, renewable fuel by 2020, and the delivery fulfills a contract awarded to Solazyme by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in September 2009.

The fuel, known as Solajet HRJ-5, is designed to meet all of the requirements for Naval renewable aviation fuel. In preliminary tests, it also meets the fuel requirements of the U.S. Air Force and meets the standards for commercial jet fuel. According to the company, Solajet HRJ-5 provides an 85 percent reduction in carbon emissions when compared to traditional jet fuel.

The fuel has already been tested by an independent testing laboratory, and met all of the Navy’s 19 rigorous requirements for renewable hydrotreated jet fuel. It will now go through the Navy’s own testing and certification program.

Solazyme claims Solajet is the world’s first 100 percent algal-based jet fuel. But they’re not the only ones pursuing the technology. The aviation industry has seen a series of announcements lately as fuel and technology companies look to gain a competitive advantage by being among the first to market new biofuels.

European Aeronautic Defence And Space (EADS) and its subsidiary, Eurocopter, have signed a deal with an Argentinean biofuels supplier to evaluate the potential for an algae-based biofuel.

United Airlines, meanwhile, recently conducted the first flight by a U.S. commercial airline using natural gas synthetic jet fuel. The fuel is claimed as the only alternative fuel type certified for commercial aviation.

Across the pond, British Airways plans to build a plant that will produce biojet fuel from plasma gasification of biomass.

Much of the development is being driven by new partnerships and funding by government organizations looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions caused by the aviation industry.

The FAA recently awarded $125 million in new contracts with GE Aviation, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing and Rolls Royce to develop aircraft and engine technologies that reduce noise and emissions and improve fuel burn.

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University have created an initiative to promote aviation biofuel development in the Pacific Northwest.

Solazyme has also inked a research and development deal with Unilever to develop an algae-based oil that can be used in its soaps and other personal care products.

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