Manufacturing Savvy

An Unlikely Partnership

The team of an U.S. Indian tribe and a professor might just have created a fuel that will power the future.

The Southern Utes, an Indian tribe based on Southwest Colorado that has energy and real-estate holdings, has joined forces with Colorado State professor, Bryan Willson, who teaches mechanical engineering and is a co-founder of the three-year-old company Solix Biofuels.

In an article in the New York Times, the tribe's chairman, Matthew J. Box, said the project is ideal as it's "a marriage of an older way of thinking into a modern time.”

Solix Biofuels supplies AGSTM Technology—a controlled environment for cultivating oil-rich microalgae that is used for the production of biocrude, green diesel, biojet, biodiesel and chemical intermediates. In July the company began algal oil production at its Coyote Gulch Demonstration Facility which is located on a two-acre site in southwestern Colorado, on land provided by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and is fully integrated with an industrial plant producing CO2 and water as waste products.

The facility is expected to be producing the equivalent of 3,000 gallons per acre, per year of algal oil by late 2009.

Solix originated from the U.S. Department of Energy's Aquatic Species Program which started in 1978 to explore ways to produce biodiesel from algae. Today the company’s strategic partners include:

Neste Oil
Cargill
Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd.
Valero
Cemex
Lost Alamos National Laboratory

The company's tagline says it all "At Solix, we are turning algae into energy and fueling a better world."

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