SAN FRANCISCO --- Solazyme Inc., a renewable oil production company and algal biotechnology company, was awarded a $789,697 grant from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. 

The grant will be used to further Solazyme's research and development of a clean, renewable fuel from cellulosic feedstocks. 

"This grant will make renewable and fossil-free transportation fuels more readily available and help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Karen Douglas, chairman of the California Energy Commission. "The research will also create new fuel production in California, opening up more employment opportunities and economic growth." 

Up to $1.65 million was available for PIER project funding. Nearly half of those funds were awarded to Solazyme. 

"The California Energy Commission's demonstrated leadership in driving commercial innovation for a cleaner and more prosperous state is well known, and we are pleased to be working with California on such an important project," said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme. 

Solazyme has already produced laboratory-scale quantities of oil from multiple cellulosic feedstocks -- including switchgrass, miscanthus, sugar beet pulp, corn stover and sugarcane bagasse -- and has identified a number of algae strains that grow on these types of feedstocks. The grant supports the company's ongoing efforts to:

  • Evaluate and procure local cellulosic sugars
  • Identify and optimize algal strains for oil production from cellulosic sources
  • Convert algal biomass to oil
  • Develop a commercialization plan and roadmap for Soladiesel.

By using feedstocks that grow in California and are considered waste, the project supports the production of a clean fuel that protects valuable water and arable land resources while minimizing dependence on imported fuel.