Nikkei Business reports that Toyota has begun negotiations with BP on a joint research effort into biofuels.
By entering into a new partnership with BP, Toyota hopes to conduct research into areas such as the economic viability of biofuels, their effect on vehicles, and possible feedstocks. Talks are currently focused on narrowing down the research interests.
Last year, Toyota began trials of synthetic GTL diesel with Shell. (Earlier post.) The company has begun development of ethanol-burning flex fuel cars for the Latin America market as well. (Earlier post.)
BP, which distributes light ethanol and biodiesel blends in a number of countries, is especially interested in the potential for the development of biofuels from feedstocks that don’t require intensive farming—cellulosic ethanol from biomass waste, for example.
Automaker/oil company research initiatives into this area are not new. BP and Ford fund research at Princeton that is exploring, among others, one scenario of doubling the fuel economy of 2 billion cars and creating conventional biofuels from 250 million hectares of crops or trees.
Volkswagen AG is working with Shell to research gas-to-liquid (GTL) and biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuels. Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler, along with other automakers and with the support of the German government, are exploring the production of diesel fuels from wood chips.
To date, though, Toyota has not been visible in a leading role in the biofuels area. Depending upon the scope of the possible research partnership, that might change.
(A hat-tip to Jack Rosebro!)