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Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil in new co-funded research agreement to develop algae biofuels

Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) announced a new co-funded research agreement with ExxonMobil to develop algae biofuels. The new agreement is a basic science research program that focuses on developing algal strains with significantly improved production characteristics by employing synthetic genomic science and technology. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

In June 2009, SGI and ExxonMobil announced a research and development alliance focused on naturally occurring and conventionally modified algae strains. (Earlier post.) Over the nearly four years working together the companies gained considerable knowledge about the challenges in developing economical and scalable algae biofuels. (Earlier post.)

We look forward to working with ExxonMobil to undertake this in-depth focus on the basic science research to better understand and enhance algae. The new agreement gives us an opportunity to really focus on improving algal strains using our core synthetic biology technologies to develop biofuels.

—J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., SGI’s founder and CEO

SGI said it also made significant strides in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics, and enhancements to algae to improve algal biomass and lipid productivities.

The new agreement focuses on SGI’s core strengths in synthetic biology and will allow the company to further explore this area of research to develop improved algal strains. The agreement places greater emphasis on basic scientific research to develop strains which reproduce quickly, produce a high proportion of lipids and effectively withstand environmental and operational conditions.

SGI continues to invest in large-scale cultivation and product recovery facilities which will assist the company longer term in the scale-up and commercialization of improved algal strains for food, chemicals and fuel.

SGI currently has two facilities—a smaller scale research greenhouse and laboratory near the SGI campus in La Jolla, CA, and a larger-scale development and commercial production facility with closed photobioreactors, open ponds and product recovery unit operations in Imperial Valley, CA.



Im interested to buy if it cost less then conventional gasoline.


AD. It will cost less eventually. Not because they will ever do it cheap, but only because the price of gasoline will continue to rise. We know that $4.00 a gallon in the US is the price that makes many alternatives viable economically. I suspect these bug juices get profitable at about $5 a gallon.


Synthetics can compete on price now, but the whole industry is geared toward drill, pump, transport and refine.

When the oil gets harder to find and costs even more, alternatives will show up. I could see 10% synthetic ethanol and 10% synthetic gasoline becoming popular, once they look at cleaner air, cleaner engines and less imported oil.


Sjc, you didn't understand that synthetic are made locally and consume locally contrary to conventional petrol that are coming from very far. producing gasoline from petrol is more costly at the pump. I said long time ago to make cheap fuel, is it clear now.

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