Monday, April 22, 2013

Turning green slime into liquid gold

What if you could replace the petroleum molecules that we use in fuel and so many other products with a substitute made from algae?

Emory alum Harrison Dillon will explain how he’s doing just that, as the guest speaker for Emory’s Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium, on Thursday, April 25 at 4 pm in WHSCAB Auditorum.

In 2003, Dillon and fellow Emory alum Jonathan Wolfson founded Solazyme, named one of the “50 Hottest Companies in Bio-energy” for 2011 to 2012 by Biofuels Digest.

During a TEDxAtlanta talk (see above video) in 2010, Dillon explained how he and Wolfson became close friends as college freshmen and dreamed of starting a company together. They parted ways for graduate school. Dillon, who loved biotechnology and genetics, was working on a PhD in human genetics, but halfway through he became disenchanted with the idea of a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I started reading the scientific literature about micro-organisms that make stuff that’s flammable,” Dillon recalls. “And I thought, if you could use all this genetics and biotechnology to make organisms that make stuff that burns efficiently, maybe you could make renewable fuel. I called Jonathan and I said, ‘I know what our company’s going to be: We’re going to use micro-algae to make fuel.’ And he said, ‘That’s delusional. I love it.’”

Happy Earth Day!

Oil change

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