Shell and Virent to Collaborate on Biogas

Shell and Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced a joint research and development effort to convert plant sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline blend components rather than ethanol. The collaboration could bring the availability of new types of biofuels.

Traditionally, sugars have been fermented into ethanol and distilled. The biogasoline molecules produced from Virent’s BioForming platform technology could have higher energy content than ethanol and deliver better fuel efficiency. The sugars can be sourced from non-food sources like corn stover, switch grass, wheat straw and sugarcane pulp, in addition to conventional biofuel feedstock like wheat, corn and sugarcane.

“The technical properties of today’s biofuels pose some challenges to widespread adoption,” Dr. Graeme Sweeney, Shell Executive Vice President Future Fuels and C02 said. “Fuel distribution infrastructure and vehicle engines are being modified to cope but new fuels on the horizon, such as Virent’s, with characteristics similar or even superior to gasoline and diesel, are very exciting.”

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