Solazyme, Bunge to build sugar-to-oil facility in Brazil

| August 12, 2011

Solazyme Inc. may have just found the right partner to take the company’s sugar-to-oil technology platform to a global scale. Solazyme has officially signed a framework agreement to form a joint-venture with Bunge Global Innovation LLC, the agribusiness giant and sugarcane company based in Brazil. The goal of the joint venture is to design and build a facility to produce renewable oils in time for the 2013 sugarcane harvest. Solazyme said of the joint venture that it will leverage its own technology with “Bunge’s sugarcane milling and natural oil processing capabilities,” all to produce a triglyceride-based oil for chemical applications.

Both parties will contribute to financing the project, and through the agreement, Solazyme will receive additional compensation for its technology contributions. The facility will be located at an existing mill site in Brazil and will produce roughly 100,000 metric tons of renewable oil.

Solazyme’s technology is based on the use of heterotrophic algae strains that can thrive in the dark. The microalgae used by the company is placed in industrial fermenters and fed sugars to increase the volume of oil present in the strains.

The company’s new venture in Brazil should benefit from the new COO, Rogerio Manso. When Manso was officially announced as the new COO, the company specifically noted that he will help “to build manufacturing capacity and bring Solazyme’s products to market in Brazil and abroad.”

One of the company’s products, a luxury skincare product called Algenist, recently got a boost when Solazyme signed an agreement with a United Kingdom beauty retailer, Space NK, to carry the product in 60 stores. The Algenist product contains an anti-aging acid called alguronic acid, and sells for roughly €52 to €76. In addition to Space NK’s use of the Solazyme product, companies in the U.S., Canada offer the product along with QVC and The Shopping Channel.

Earlier this year, the company, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, also completed a successful test run of a Solazyme produced algae-derived jet fuel in a MH-60S Seahawk Helicopter.