Editor’s Note: As of September 2021 Synthetic Genomics is now operating under the name Viridos, Inc.
Algae captures CO2 to generate energy-rich fat, which can be refined into biofuels.
The process is simple and potentially impactful. The challenge is engineering the technology able to refine algae biofuel at an industrial scale day in and day out.
It’s that very challenge Synthetic Genomic (SGI) and ExxonMobil are tackling. While there is still a lot of work ahead, the two companies have scored some noteworthy achievements since they began working together nearly 10 years ago.
Most recently, the two companies developed an algae strain able to produce a record amount of fat in a relatively short time. That’s important since a fatter algae will produce more biofuel.
To boost fat production, SGI scientists worked with their counterparts at ExxonMobil as nutritionists of sorts, tweaking the part of the algae genome responsible for the assimilation of nitrogen, an essential nutrient. The result is an algae with about 40 percent of its mass as fat. That’s more than double the fat content of conventional algae.
Success in developing algae-based biodiesel at commercial levels will provide some tangible benefits. The fuel emits fewer greenhouse gases than most conventional energy sources, which will help strengthen the world’s ongoing transition to low-emission energy sources.
Watch our video to learn more about the unique and fit algae developed by SGI and ExxonMobil.