Solazyme, which says it can turn algae into food, industrial chemicals and food, will try to sell almost 10 million shares in an IPO for $15 to $17 per share.
The company has raised approximately $128 million in several rounds. If successful, the IPO would give Solazyme a market cap of around $1 billion.
There's good reason to be hopeful. Solazyme, which grows algae via fermentation in large tanks, has produced more algae fuel than anyone else. It currently is in the second phase of a pilot for developing jet fuel with the U.S. Air Force. Rising fuel prices and tighter CAFE standards also give biofuel companies insulation against a sudden dip in prices. The 2008 economic debacle floored the entire industry after oil prices plummeted.
Solazyme was also one of the first biofuel companies to branch out into food additives and chemicals. Chevron, Dow Chemical and Unilever are among its strategic partners. (That's algae milk, similar to soy milk, in the photo.) The big knock on Solazyme is that it needs to feed algae sugar during the fermentation process. Sugar costs money and cellulosic sugar made from wood chips and waste is yet a large, mutibillion ton industry. The flip side: Solazyme doesn't need to separate its algae from water, a task that felled Greenfuel.
Both Amyris and Gevo recently pulled off successful IPOs, and both companies, right now, get the vast majority of their revenue from buying and reselling fuel from third parties.
Solazyme reported $37.1 million in revenue in 2010, mostly from its own products and technology. It produced 455 metric tons of oil between January 2010 and February 2011.
The production process the company has honed can produce fuel for $3.44 a gallon in a commercial-scale factory, which, ideally, is a plan that can start to move toward reality after the $100 million IPO. In 2010, net losses came to $16.2 million, but losses have become par for the green-IPO course.
Both Amyris and Gevo recently pulled off successful IPOs and both companies, right now, get the vast majority of their revenue from buying and reselling fuel from third parties.
Kior, which says it can turn plant matter straight into synthetic petroleum, has also filed an S-1, the necessary first step toward an IPO in the U.S.
Other algae/biofuel names to watch: Sapphire Energy, Aurora, Joule Unlimited, and Cobalt Energy.