2 November 2007
Chevron Corporation and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have entered into a collaborative research and development agreement to study and advance technology to produce liquid transportation fuels using algae.
Chevron and NREL scientists will collaborate to identify and develop algae strains that can be economically harvested and processed into finished transportation fuels such as jet fuel. Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron USA Inc., will fund the initiative.
Algae are considered a promising potential feedstock for next-generation biofuels because certain species contain high amounts of oil, which could be extracted, processed and refined into transportation fuels using currently available technology. Other benefits of algae as a potential feedstock are their abundance and fast growth rates. Key technical challenges include identifying the strains with the highest oil content and growth rates and developing cost-effective growing and harvesting methods.
This research project is the second under a five-year strategic biofuels research alliance between Chevron and NREL announced in October 2006. The first involves bio-oil reforming, a process by which bio-oils derived from the decomposition of biological feedstocks are then converted into hydrogen and biofuels.
Nonfood feedstock sources such as algae and cellulose hold the greatest promise to grow the biofuels industry to large scale, said Chevron. NREL operated the Aquatic Species Program for the Department of Energy for nearly 20 years, obtaining unique insights into the research required to produce cost-effective fuels from algal oils or lipids.