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ExxonMobil, SGI alliance to develop biofuels from algae

ExxonMobil Corporation announced an alliance with biotech company Synthetic Genomics Inc (SGI) to research and develop next-generation biofuels from photosynthetic algae.

“This investment comes after several years of planning and study and is an important addition to ExxonMobil’s ongoing efforts to advance breakthrough technologies to help meet the world’s energy challenges,” said Dr Emil Jacobs, vice-president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

ExxonMobil Research and Engineering has entered into a research and development alliance with SGI, a privately held company focused on developing genomic-driven systems and founded by genome pioneer Dr J Craig Venter to develop advanced biofuels from photosynthetic algae that are compatible with gasoline and diesel fuels.

Under the program, if research and development milestones are successfully met, ExxonMobil expects to spend more than $600 million, which includes $300 million in internal costs and potentially more than $300 million to SGI.

ExxonMobil has invested more than $1.5 billion in the past five years on activities that improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Initiatives include technologies to improve automobile efficiency, such as tire liners that keep tires inflated longer, advanced fuel-economy engine oil, and lightweight automobile plastics. The company is also researching enhanced engine efficiency, has developed an improved lithium battery separator film for hybrid electric cars, and sponsors breakthrough research into ways to improve solar energy, biofuels, and carbon capture and storage.

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