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US Algae Biofuel Company Wins French Beauty Award

Tina Casey headshotWords by Tina Casey
Data & Technology

The Marie Claire 2014 Prix d’Excellence de la Beauté award has gone to an algae oil company called Solazyme, making it one of only two U.S. brands to garner a prize against hundreds of entrants this year. The award indicates excellence in both innovation and performance. That's a pretty high mark for a company better known for algae biofuel, but Solazyme actually covers four markets with its unique algae oil extraction technology: fuels, chemicals, nutritionals and personal care.

Announced earlier this month, the award was given unanimously by a panel of judges for the company's Algenist® line of skin care products. That's great timing for Solazyme. The company has just announced the start of commercial algae oil operations at two integrated locations in Iowa, which together showcase the company's ability to hop nimbly from one market to another.

Solazyme and Biofuel

Solazyme's biofuel endeavors became big news back in 2011 when it began supplying algae biofuel to the U.S. Navy, including a biofuel-for-shipping project between Maersk and the U.S. Navy, so that accounts partly for its familiarity as a biofuel company.

In 2012 the company also launched a unique retail biofuel station for vehicles in partnership with Propel Fuels, making it the first to offer algae biofuel to the general public.

The company also gained some additional fuel-related notoriety in 2012 when it opened an algae oil facility in Peoria, Ill., with the support of Department of Energy funding.

Solazyme Makes Its Mark In Beauty

Solazyme's earlier biofuel ventures occurred while certain members of Congress were engaged in an all-out war to stop the Department of Defense (the Navy, in particular) from buying algae biofuel, but now that the noise has died down, what's left is the fact that algae is becoming a commercially viable feedstock for sustainable fuel.

The company's growing reputation in personal care opens up a whole new level of public awareness about commercial algae farming. This is what Marie Claire Health and Beauty Editor Ariane Goldet had to say about Solzyme's award:

For the past 28 years, we have searched for trailblazing products and brands that couple the latest breakthroughs with the latest trends, and Algenist with their breakthrough, hero-ingredients, Alguronic Acid® and Microalgae Oil, do all of this and more. They are a pioneering brand and we are pleased to place them amongst the 2014 Maria Claire Prix d’ Excellence de la Beauté winners.

Solazyme and the Sustainable Supply Chain

Solazyme's ability to hop markets provides yet another new option for companies looking to ramp up the sustainability of their supply chains.

The global textile lubricant company Goulston, for example, has already publicized its relationship with Solazyme for a new class of sustainable products.

The key to Solazyme's market-hopping is a tailored approach to growing microalgae called TailoredTMoil.

Also helping things along is a high-efficiency, low cost process that uses microalgae that grow in the dark, feeding on waste material including corn stover, forestry waste and other renewable sources.

The algae "farm" consists of standard industrial fermentation equipment, so the use of off-the-shelf technology also plays a role in the cost-effectiveness of the system.

The new facilities are in partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Company in Clinton, Iowa, which takes care of the algae oil process, and American Natural Products in Galva, Iowa, which takes care of the downstream product end.

The two facilities have already produced three different products at commercial scale with applications that range from lubrication and metalworking to home care and personal care.

Image (cropped): Courtesy of Solazyme

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Tina Casey headshotTina Casey

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

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