Advancing cellulosic biofuel research

Waste afThe goal is to evaluate the potential use of cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste and residues to produce biofuel. (Image source: Phu Thinh Co/Flickr)ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) have signed a joint research agreement with Clariant to evaluate the potential use of cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste and residues to produce biofuel, which has the potential to play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The new partnership expands a previously announced agreement for joint research between ExxonMobil and REG, in which the companies successfully validated the ability of REG Life Sciences bio-conversion technology to convert sugars from cellulosic biomass into biodiesel through a single-step process.

The new agreement with Clariant allows ExxonMobil and REG to further optimise REG’s bio-conversion process using previously tested and benchmarked cellulosic sugars created through Clariant’s sunliquid® process. The companies’ ultimate objective is to combine Clariant’s and REG’s processes into a seamless cellulosic biomass-to-biodiesel technology.

“Over the past three years, our work with REG has led to important advances in genetically improving REG’s proprietary microbes for beneficial use in facilitating the conversion of cellulosic sugars into biodiesel,” said Vijay Swarup, vice-president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

Clariant is one of the leading companies in Switzerland which provides integrated technologies and solutions for converting agricultural residues such as wheat straw, rice straw, corn stover and sugar cane bagasse. Clariant’s sunliquid® process features chemical-free pretreatment, the integrated production of feedstock and process-specific enzymes and thus high yields of fermentable C5 and C6 sugars.

The partners will also work on a conceptual engineering study to validate the feasibility of the integrated process comprising the technologies of all parties.

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