martes, julio 14, 2009

Exxon Makes Investment In Craig Venter’s Algal Biofuel Startup

Exxon will invest $600 million in a venture by human genome mapper J. Craig Venter that is seeking to mass produce liquid transportation fuel from algae. The “collaborative research project” between the oil giant and Venter’s Synthetic Genomics gives a major boost to the effort to produce algal biofuels, although both companies stressed that it would likely be five to 10 years before small-scale algal biofuel plants are operating. The joint project will dip into Exxon’s deep pockets to try to solve three major challenges: finding the most suitable strain of algae, determining the best way to grow it, and figuring out how to mass produce it economically. Exxon officials said they decided to invest in algal biofuel over other forms of biofuels because its production does not require arable land or fresh water and algae consumes large quantities of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Synthetic Genomics has been using genetic engineering in an effort to produce strains of algae that would automatically secrete a “hydrocarbon-like” liquid.

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