Hinterland Green

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Exxon Mobil Forms Partnership with Synthetic Genomics to Develop Transportation Fuels from Algae

Exxon Mobil Corp. will make its first major investment in greenhouse-gas reducing biofuels through a $600 million partnership with Synthetic Genomics Inc. to develop transportation fuels from algae. The company has been harshly criticized by environmental groups, members of Congress and even some shareholders for not spending enough resources to explore alternative energy options. Well, they have seen the light!

Exxon Mobil says photosynthetic algae appears to be a viable, long-term candidate. If the alliance is successful, pumping algae-based gasoline at Exxon service stations is still several years away and will mean additional, multibillion-dollar investments for mass production.
"This is not going to be easy, and there are no guarantees of success," Emil Jacobs, a vice president at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But we're combining Exxon Mobil's technical and financial strength with a leader in bioscientific genomics."

Jacobs said the project involves three critical steps: identifying algae strains that can produce suitable types of oil quickly and at low costs, determining the best way to grow the algae and developing systems to harvest enough for commercial purposes.

Besides the potential for large-scale production, algae has other benefits, Jacobs said. It can be grown using land and water unsuitable for other crop and food production; it consumes carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for climate change; and it can produce an oil with molecular structures similar to the petroleum products _ gasoline, diesel, jet fuel - Exxon already makes. That means the Irving, Texas-based company will be able to convert the bio-oil into fuels at its own refineries and use existing pipelines and tanker trucks to get it to consumers. Source: Huffington Post
The $600 million price tag includes $300 million for Exxon's internal costs and $300 million or more, if research and development milestones are met successfully, to Synthetic Genomics.

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