Exxon to make alternative fuel from algae: report

Jul 14, 2009
Green algae smothering beaches in east China's Shandong province. Oil giant Exxon Mobil plans to announce a $600 million investment to produce liquid transportation fuel from algae, The New York Times has reported.

Oil giant Exxon Mobil plans to announce a 600-million-dollar investment to produce liquid transportation fuel from algae, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The effort by Exxon, whose chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson once derided ethanol as "moonshine," includes a partnership with the biotechnology company Synthetic Genomics.

A top Exxon research told the newspaper that the company has researched fuel alternatives for years.

"We literally looked at every option we could think of, with several key parameters in mind," said Emil Jacobs, vice president for research and development at Exxon's research and engineering unit.

"Scale was the first. For transportation fuels, if you can't see whether you can scale a technology up, then you have to question whether you need to be involved at all."

But Jacobs acknowledged that it would take at least five to 10 years before large-scale commercial plants could produce algae-based fuels.

Environmentalists struck a note of skepticism at the plans.

"Research is great, but we need to see new products in the market," Greenpeace research director Kert Davies told the Times.

"We've always said that major companies have to be involved. But the question is whether companies are simply paying lip service to something or whether they are putting their weight and power behind it."

, Exxon said, could produce over 2,000 gallons of (7,570 liters) per acre (0.4 hectare) of production per year, compared to 650 gallons (2,460 liters) for palm trees and 450 gallons (1,703 liters) for sugar canes, while corn only yields 250 gallons (946 liters).

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 9

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iknow
3.9 / 5 (7) Jul 14, 2009
"Research is great, but we need to see new products in the market," Greenpeace research director Kert Davies told the Times.

Greenpeace would not be satisfied even if we all walked and ate lentils for the rest of humanity. Its these lot that do more damage with stupid comments.... even Exxon knows oil is running out so their gravy train is coming to a halt...they need alt fuels far more than any of us even care about.

And instead of applauding Exxon for using Alge and not arable land (like so many other "green" alts) the Director of Research no less spurts nonsense.

Maybe Greenpeace ought to have a crack at making some fuels (at least to fuel their awesome fleet of polluting boats, planes and vehicles)
LariAnn
4 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2009
No matter what Greenpeace or anyone else says, the increasing activity in finding alternatives to foreign oil is bound to make the Saudis and all other oil producing nations nervous. Their greed has contributed to the current problems, and their destiny is to lose their primary source of foreign income. Perhaps they can switch to farming camels - I bet they will come up with a lot of recipes for camel meat!
iknow
3 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2009
hehe... well said Lari... fancy a camel hoof stew? .. tastes like chicken.
jaggspb
4 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2009
so instead of militant groups blowing up oil pipelines with bombs they will be armed with chlorine tablets?

i applaud research into the alt. fuels even if the source is suspect.
marjon
4 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2009
No matter what Greenpeace or anyone else says, the increasing activity in finding alternatives to foreign oil is bound to make the Saudis and all other oil producing nations nervous. Their greed has contributed to the current problems, and their destiny is to lose their primary source of foreign income. Perhaps they can switch to farming camels - I bet they will come up with a lot of recipes for camel meat!

Red Sea could produce a lot of algae and they have quite of bit of real estate for solar energy.
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2009
Saudi Arabia would be an excellent place for solar power, and with electricity, they could pump seawater into ponds to grow algae on land. Don't count them out as an alternative energy producer.

Of course, that assumes the sheiks want to plan for the future instead of simply spending today's money on themselves.
Arikin
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2009
Research?? Are you kidding? This is 1960's technology! The research stopped because the funding stopped. The last oil crunch scared us enough to start funding alternative fuels. That is when the oil producing countries increased their output. Only this time the supply is running out and they can't keep pace.

Hey Exxon try researching who has already developed this technology. Stop pretending to research old technology and start doing. Re-inventing the wheel is just a knuckle dragging technique.
austux
4 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2009
Perhaps they can switch to farming camels
Camels are vermin in Australia already, so why not start with the Great South Land?

Gresh
not rated yet Jul 20, 2009
Hey Greenpeace, I've got something for you. How about STFU and do something productive like fund some alt fuels research or help set-up some alt fuel companies?