Dow partners with Solazyme to develop biobased fluids

By Luke Geiver | October 18, 2011

Two months after changing its name to reflect a growing intent to include biobased products into its massive product portfolio, Dow Electrical & Telecommunications, formerly Dow Wire & Cable, has made good on the company’s intent to add biobased products. Through a developmental agreement, the company will work with Solazyme Inc. to develop algal oils for use in biobased Dielectric Insulating Fluids.

In August, Tim Laughlin, general manager for Dow E & T spoke on the reason behind the name change. “Electricity and electrical components are a common denominator across all power and telecommunications resources. After six decades serving these important markets, the time is right to leverage the Dow portfolio in an even wider capacity to bring new technology and products to market,” adding that “beyond this organic growth, we also are exploring several potential alliances with companies whose products and experience enhance or complement our own.”

According to Dow E & T, the market for DIF is estimated at $2 billion, and represents more than 500 million gallons of opportunity for both companies. Commonly mineral oil-based DIFs help run and maintain transformers in electrical applications, and according to both companies, with Dow’s knowledge in specialty fluid formulations and previous experience in the power industry combined with Solazyme’s feedstock capability with renewable oils, “the two organizations are perfectly aligned to develop and produce next-generation biobased DIFs that are virtually fire safe, environmentally sound and provide increased performance to end users.”

The companies will begin testing the biobased DIFs soon, with a commercialization effort scheduled for 2013. Laughlin also commented on the recent partnership with Solazyme explaining that, “In the fast-growing space of biobased DIFs, Solazyme tailor-designed algal oils will serve as a foundation for our continued ability to innovate novel solutions that will benefit the power industry.”

The announcement of the Dow E&T partnership marks a busy 30 days for Solazyme. In addition to the partnership announcement, the company has also brought on a new Vice President for Government Relations, Drew Littman, who formerly served as chief of staff to Minnesota senator Al Franken as well as principal for Podesta Associates where Littman work with GE Capital among others. Along with the addition of Littman, the company has also added Jeffrey Webster as the chief operating officer. Webster previously worked with Tyson Foods as the general manager for renewable products. And at JC Penny’s stores across the nation, Solazyme’s Algenist skincare product has been added to the skincare lines offered at the stores. 


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