Shell start first biogasoline production plant
Virent Energy Systems, Inc., and Shell announced
the successful start of production at the world’s first demonstration
plant converting plant sugars into gasoline and gasoline blend
components, rather than ethanol.
The demonstration plant, located at Virent’s facilities in Madison,
Wisconsin, is the latest step in a joint biogasoline research
and development effort, announced by both companies in March
2008. The demonstration plant has the capacity to produce up
to 10,000 gallons per year, which will be used for engine and
This new biofuel can be blended with gasoline in high concentrations
for use in standard gasoline engines. The new product has the
potential to eliminate the need for specialized infrastructure,
engine modifications, and blending equipment necessary for the
use of gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol.
Virent’s patented BioForming® platform technology uses catalysts
to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules like those
produced at a petroleum refinery. Traditionally, sugars have
been fermented into ethanol and distilled. Virent’s ‘biogasoline’
fuel molecules have higher energy content than ethanol and deliver
better fuel economy. They can be blended seamlessly to make conventional
gasoline or combined with gasoline containing ethanol.
The sugars can be sourced from non-food feedstocks such as corn
stover, wheat straw and sugarcane pulp, in addition to conventional
biofuel feedstocks such as wheat, corn and sugarcane. The demonstration
plant is currently using beet sugar.