ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Monday announced a breakthrough in their research into non-food feedstocks, with the two companies reporting they have successfully developed a strain of algae that is able to convert carbon into a record amount of energy-rich fat suitable for biodiesel manufacture. The firms say their process can grow algae with 40% oil content, double the 20% ratios common to other technologies, and bringing commercial scale applications closer to reality. The new algae-based feedstock will allow manufacture of diesel substitutes with much lower greenhouse gas emissions than most conventional energy sources, Exxon says, while freeing up crops for food.
Exxon Mobil is not the first refiner to invest in researching new non-crop feedstocks which can be processed in a conventional refinery. With its large California market share, Tesoro announced plans last September to scale up Virent’s technology which can convert sugars and biomass into gasoline and components, likely qualifying for D5 RINS as well as LCFS tickets. Meanwhile owned by Ensyn Technologies Inc based in Canada, four pathways that convert pyrolysis oil from forest residues to renewable gasoline are listed under CARB, with CIs evaluated between 20 and 26CO2g/MJ.
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