ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company and Renewable Energy Group subsidiary Life Sciences have agreed to explore production of biodiesel by fermenting renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste.
Earlier, REG had developed new technology capable of converting sugars to biodiesel using uses microbes in a one-step fermentation process similar to ethanol manufacturing.
Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will explore ways to ferment renewable cellulosic sugars, which contain multiple types of sugars, including glucose and xylose.
ExxonMobil said that the research intends to identify potential breakthrough technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing energy supplies and realize other environmental benefits.
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company research and development vice-president Vijay Swarup said: "The science is extremely complex, but we hope to identify new affordable and reliable supplies of energy for the world that do not have a major impact on food supplies."
The ExxonMobil and REG Life Sciences research will focus on using sugars from non-food sources.
REG vice-president Eric Bowen said: "We look forward to this collaboration with ExxonMobil to advance our proprietary cellulosic sugar fermentation technology and capitalize on the combined power of cellulosic sugars and microbial fermentation to revolutionize the production of ultra-low carbon, cleaner burning advanced biofuels."
During the initial research, the team intends to assess the technical feasibility and potential environmental benefits.
Bowen added: "If the results are positive, we can then take the next step and explore the potential to expand our efforts and explore scalability.
"The research we are conducting with ExxonMobil in this program supports our entire Life Sciences product offering, creating the opportunity for lower cost production of lower carbon specialty chemicals, fuels and other products."
Image: REG Life Sciences is working with ExxonMobil to develop biodiesel from cellulosic sugars using REG proprietary technology. Photo: courtesy of REG.