Researchers at REG Life Sciences in South San Francisco, Calif., are working with ExxonMobil to develop biodiesel from cellulosic sugars using REG proprietary technology.
REG has developed a patented technology that uses microbes to convert sugars to biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process similar to ethanol manufacturing. The ExxonMobil and REG Life Sciences research will focus on using sugars from nonfood sources.
Through the research, the two companies will seek to address the challenge of how to ferment real-world renewable cellulosic sugars, which contain multiple types of sugars, including glucose and xylose, but also impurities that can inhibit fermentation.
“As we research renewable energy supplies, we are exploring future energy options with a reduced environmental impact,” says Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. “Our first challenge is to determine technical feasibility and potential environmental benefits during the initial research. If the results are positive, we can then take the next step and explore the potential to expand our efforts and explore scalability.”