Algae-based fuels are still a very expensive idea and the technology behind their production is not yet ready to compete with fossil fuels, according to the latest press release by Synthetic Genomics.
ExxonMobil was the company, which hired Synthetic Genomics to develop algae-based fuels back in 2009. However, the experts behind the so-called Exxon-Synthetic Genomics project did not manage to find the winning algae strain, which is supposed to produce economical biofuel. In 2010, it all looked very promising, with the company announcing the opening of a big greenhouse for algae testing.
Unfortunately, the project did not produce what everyone was hoping for. Being unsatisfied with the findings, Exxon has now signed another agreement with Genomics, this time making them explore a relatively unknown field of science. It involves modifications of the genomes in order to develop strains of algae that could reproduce fast and produce large amounts of lipids, while complying with environmental conditions.
As part of the original agreement between the two companies, Exxon was supposed to pay the impressive $300 million to Synthetic Genomics. Interestingly, none of the two parties stated how much of this has been paid, or how much the new project will cost.
It is clear, however, that Synthetic Genomics will not completely dismiss their greenhouse work. The two companies are certain that they will achieve their aim to make economical algae-based biofuel, although it might take a few extra years of hard work.