(CNet) Algae oil maker Solazyme picked a time of rising oil prices and oil over $100 a barrel to signal it plans to go public on the stock market. The San Francisco-based company on Friday filed its S-1 document to the Securities and Exchange Commission, outlining its plan to raise up to $100 million through an initial public offering. Solazyme grows algae with sugars in closed fermentation tanks to create oils, which can be used for liquid fuel and chemicals, foods, or personal care products.
A grant from the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) has produced a novel and comprehensive “Life Cycle Impact Assessment” to measure the benefits on human health that might result from a switch to biofuels. Although there are a number of uncertainties that must be addressed for a more accurate picture, these early results show that a biofuel eliminating even 10-percent of current gasoline pollutant emissions would have a substantial impact on human health in this country, especially in urban areas.
For a baseline, they used a 10-percent reduction in gasoline use. In assessing the impact of these emissions on human health they looked at “disability adjusted life years or “DALYs,” which is a combination of two common damage factors in LCIAs – years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and the equivalent years of life lost due to disability (YLDs). One DALY is equal to one lost year of “healthy” life. To put this into perspective, the total annual disease burden in the United States is about 30 million DALYs.
“In looking at emission impacts on health. we have the capacity to carry out county-level resolution measurements for both direct and indirect emissions,” said McKone in his SIM symposium presentation.
Measured emissions at county-level resolution included direct particulate matter and indirect fine particles (2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller) produced from emissions of sulfate and nitrite gases, volatile organic compounds and ammonia, plus ozone, toxic air pollutants, emissions to surface and ground water, and emissions to soil.
“We found that for the vehicle operation phase of our LCIA, the annual health damages avoided in the U.S. with 10-percent less gasoline-run motor vehicle emissions ranges from about 5,000 to 20,000 DALY, with most of the damage resulting from primary fine particle emissions,” said McKone. “While county-specific damages range over nine orders of magnitude across all U.S. counties most of the damage, as you would expect, is concentrated in urban populations with the highest impact in the Los Angeles, New York and Chicago regions.”
Large urban regions also suffered disproportionate health damage as a result of benzene emissions at service stations and during the transporting by truck of gasoline to service stations – approximately 930 DALYs.
After years of false starts, a new industry selling motor fuel made from waste is getting a big push in the United States, with the first commercial sales possible within months.
Many companies have announced plans to build plants that would take in material like wood chips, garbage or crop waste and turn out motor fuels. About 28 small plants are in advanced planning, under construction or, in a handful of cases, already up and running in test mode. → continue reading
A team of researchers at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa is involved in a project to turn oil produced from algae into military-jet fuel.
Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld, directors of the school’s Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology, will search for oil-rich strains of algae, evaluate their potential as oil producers and develop a production system that will yield competitively priced oil. → continue reading