Since 2009, Oil producer Exxon Mobil have worked with Synthetic Genomics to develop an algae based biofuel to replace raw oil in refineries. The research is not yet at a point where a substitution is viable, but with news strides in the research we are one step closer.
While Algae may not currently not be the environmentally best alternative is offers environmental advantages when compared to the use of raw oil extracted and refined.
The major oil producer have ramped up its research in collaboration with private investors and are hoping for a product that can be processed by their existing refineries within the foreseeable future. The progress have been made by boosting the lipid content in the algae produced in the lab, which is what makes them viable for refining. The algae takes CO2 and converts into lipids, previously at an efficiency of around 15%. This efficiency have now with gene modified algae been increased to around 40% and scientists hope to increase this even further.
The research have been ongoing for the past 8 years and will continue, focusing on speeding up the process of CO2-to-lipid conversion in the algae.
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