Chevron commits $12 million for
biofuels and hydrogen research
San Ramon, CA— Chevron Corporation and the
Georgia Institute of Technology have formed a strategic research
alliance to pursue advanced technology aimed at making cellulosic
biofuels and hydrogen viable transportation fuels.
Chevron Technology Ventures, a subsidiary of Chevron
Corporation, plans to collaborate with Georgia Tech’s Strategic
Energy Institute and contribute up to $12 million over five years
for research into and development of these emerging energy technologies.
The focus of the joint research is to develop
commercially viable processes for the production of transportation
fuels from renewable resources such as forest and agricultural waste.
This is viewed as an important advancement over first-generation
biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are made from agricultural
crops such as corn, sugarcane and soybeans.
“Once developed, second-generation processing
technology will allow waste products to be converted into renewable
transportation fuels, opening the door to a new phase in alternative
energy,” said Rick Zalesky, vice president of Biofuels and
Hydrogen, Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV).
Chevron and Georgia Tech formed the alliance because
their research and development goals related to emerging energy
technologies are closely aligned.
The alliance will focus its research on four areas:
production of cellulosic biofuels, understanding the characteristics
of biofuel feedstocks, developing regenerative sorbents and improving
sorbents used to produce high-purity hydrogen.
Through a process called aqueous phase reforming,
researchers will develop processes to directly convert biomass such
as wood or switchgrass into hydrogen or hydrocarbon transportation
The study will help researchers determine the
feasibility of producing commercial volumes of cellulosic biofuels
or hydrogen from biomass and also understand the conditions needed
for large-scale production facilities.
Another focus area will be to understand the characteristics
of biofuels produced from different feedstocks and their effects
on biofuel production processes. Defining the properties of various
biofuels will help in the design of equipment and procedures to
accommodate different feedstocks.
Sorbents are used in hydrogen production from
natural gas to remove odorants that contain sulfur. They are usually
costly and can be used only once. Scientists from Chevron and Georgia
Tech are working to develop regenerative sorbents that can be used
repeatedly, thereby reducing the cost of hydrogen production from
In a related project, researchers are working
to develop sorbents for the purification of hydrogen produced from
natural gas reforming. Both hydrogen performance and vehicle performance
increase with sorbent performance, leading to greater overall energy