The Lamp 2017

The new biofuels ExxonMobil continues work on advanced lower-emissions energy technologies.

In its most recent Outlook for Energy , ExxonMobil projected that carbon-related emissions will peak in the 2030s and then decline. Driving this anticipated drop is increased energy efficiency coupled with a shift to lower-emission fuels for both power and transportation. As a global energy company, energy transition. It has grown its production of natural gas to meet an ever-increasing demand for this clean and reliable fuel. It’s also investing in research to develop biofuels from several innovative feedstocks. Since 2009, the company has worked with Synthetic Genomics ExxonMobil is laying the groundwork to meet this

Inc. (SGI) to develop fuels from algae. Underpinning this joint research is a goal as simple as it is challenging: develop scalable, energy-rich algae oil that conventional refineries can process and convert into products such as diesel and jet fuel to meet growing demand. One of the challenges ExxonMobil and SGI faced was finding a strain of algae that not only grew the energy-rich fatty lipids required to convert the algae into low-emission fuel, but how to do so without impacting its growth. Maintaining the algae’s productivity is essential for the feedstock to eventually scale into a commercial-grade fuel. This year, the two companies

announced they had developed a strain of algae that did just that. “It was a true eureka moment when we knewwhat we had,” says Rob Brown, SGI’s senior director and the lead scientist on the algae project. “After years of research, we’ve managed to move the needle in a substantial way.” “This research is part of our ongoing work to make scalable, affordable and reliable energy accessible to the world,” says Jennifer Feeley, biofuels research portfolio manager for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE). “While there is still work ahead, low- emission renewable diesel refined from algae could be one part of the solution.”

Story by Terrence Murray Photography by Chris New


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