MAY 2010
                                        

Virent and 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 fleet testing.

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.