Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cargill, Shell and Honda team up to make gasoline from pine and corn waste

Three global companies from the worlds of agriculture, petroleum and car manufacturing are lead investors in a company called Virent, which has developed a biogasoline that is practically the molecular equivalent of conventional gasoline.

The milestone is significant because the feedstock consists of woody, non-food waste from pine and corn (aka corn stover), a vast improvement over corn, soybeans and other food crops. The partnership is also significant because – well, connect the dots: the three companies are Honda, Shell, and Cargill, and Virent is one of 17 members of the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, which funded the biogasoline project through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. With global corporate support building for alternative fuels, it seems that the Obama administration is cultivating some powerful new allies to counteract pressure from the fossil fuel industry.

True Biogasoline from Corn Stover and Pine Waste

Until now, woody plant material has resisted commercialization as a biofuel crop. The culprit is lignin, the hard stuff that forms rigid cell walls in plants. Early attempts to break down lignin involved numerous, expensive steps. Virent developed a cost-effective process with help from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The result is a product the company calls Bioformate, which is a true “drop-in,” high octane fuel that can substitute directly for conventional gasoline. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

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