Shell and Virent searching for the miracle formula
According to Reuters, Royal Dutch Shell and US bioscience firm Virent Energy Systems, are to research a gasoline alternative from non-food crops. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions without increasing food prices.
Shell said that unlike ethanol, the fuel it aims to develop with Virent will be able to run in existing vehicles without the need to modify their engines. Current gasoline engines can usually only run on small amounts of ethanol blended with gasoline, typically 5%. Much higher percentages can be used with modification.
The project follows a trend of major oil companies investing in plans to produce motor fuels from crops. The focus is mainly on second-generation biofuels, which will be produced from non-food crops. These can be grown on land not suitable for wheat or sugar cane.
Shell and Virent have not disclosed the amount they are investing in the project and produced no targets for achieving commercial production of the new fuel.
Last year, Shell and Virent announced a partnership to develop processes to manufacture hydrogen from biomass, using the same technology. The companies hope this will now produce "biogasoline".