USA: Biofuels Exxon Mobil and REG Make Progress in Cellulosic Biodiesel Research

Editor: Alexander Stark

Exxon Mobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) announced that by utilizing REG’s patented fermentation technology, the companies’ joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of non-edible biomass sources into biodiesel.

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Exxon Mobil signed an agreement with REG in January 2016 to study the production of biodiesel through fermentation of renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste.
Exxon Mobil signed an agreement with REG in January 2016 to study the production of biodiesel through fermentation of renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste.
(Source: Exxon Mobil)

Clinton/USA — The companies agreed in January 2016 to study the production of biodiesel through fermentation of renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste. They have agreed to extend the research program based on their positive findings and are excited to continue to jointly explore the technology’s potential for scalability.

During their initial research, the companies successfully validated the feasibility of the REG Life Sciences fermentation technology across multiple cellulosic sugar compositions produced with a variety of methods from various non-edible biomass sources. The research also confirmed the technology's capability of achieving substantial reductions of full-lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel.

“Biofuels today are made largely from food sources, such as corn and sugar cane,” said Swarup. “Exxon Mobil is challenging that paradigm by exploring a portfolio of large-scale biofuels solutions that do not compete with food and water. Our work with REG Life Sciences has been critical to better understanding the potential for converting cellulosic feedstock from agricultural waste into a commercially viable diesel fuel, as well as the lifecycle greenhouse gas implications of that process.”

REG Life Sciences has developed proprietary technology that relies on microbes to convert cellulosic sugars into biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process. Cellulosic feedstocks derived from agricultural waste, contain multiple types of sugars, including glucose and xylose, as well as impurities that can inhibit the fermentation process.

A breakthrough in cellulosic biodiesel production could have broad implications for the transportation sector. Global demand for transportation-related energy is projected to increase by about 25 % through 2040, and accelerating the reduction in emissions from the transportation sector through technologies like biodiesel will play a critical role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

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