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Published on February 20th, 2009 | by Clayton

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BP Becomes Leader in Cellulosic Ethanol Investment, Adds $22.5M to Verenium


cellulosic ethanol plant

On Wednesday, BP anounced a joint venture with Verenium to build the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol facility.  BP’s total investment—now $112.5 million—will be the largest by an oil company in advanced, non-food-based biofuels.

The Florida-based plant would be 25 times larger than Verenium’s existing (and operational) cellulosic ethanol facility in Louisiana, which began operation earlier this month and is expected to produce 60+ million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year when at full capacity. This new, larger facility is schedule to break ground in 2010 and commece operations in 2012.

“This next stage in our relationship with Verenium demonstrates our real commitment to making cellulosic ethanol a reality in the U.S. fuels market in the near term. BP and Verenium together have the technological know-how, engineering capability and market expertise required to demonstrate that we can deliver better, more sustainable biofuels, more quickly.”

-Sue Ellerbusch, President of BP Biofuels North America

Last August, we reported that Verenium (click for earlier post) claims to have the edge in cellulosic ethanol production through genetic engineering of the microbes required to turn the cellulosic material (switchgrass, wood chipssugarcane bagassemiscanthus) into ethanol.

[via: Biofuels Digest]

Photo Credit: fredthompson via Flickr under Creative Commons License




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About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.



  • Michael Bryant

    I it good to know that BP is takeing some steps to produce renewable fuel.

  • Michael Bryant

    I it good to know that BP is takeing some steps to produce renewable fuel.

  • Aureon Kwolek

    Cellulosic ethanol is unfolding right now, and this is liquid fuel that replaces foreign oil right now. Reuters reports that the U.S. is currently producing about 3 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol (CE) at pilot plants. CE Pilot plants will grow to 83.5 million gallons per year by 2011. Full blown commercial CE refineries that are planned and-or under construction will produce 225.5 million gallons by 2011. (Search: TABLE-Open and planned US cellulosic ethanol plants) This probably does not include every single project, as some are confidential and proprietary. And new projects are being announced on a regular basis.

    Using miscanthus, you can get an average of 25 tons per acre per year, and you can get 120 gallons of ethanol per ton or more. That would be 3,000 gallons per acre per year. For algae, the yield is 100 tons per acre, roughly 12,000 gallons or more per acre per year. This is using a 96% starch variety of algae.

    HETEROTROPHIC algae grows in the dark, and multiplies rapidly when fed sugars or biomass. This technology is being developed by Solazyme and others. East Kentucky University and General Atomics are leveraging local biomass by feeding it to heterotrophic algae grown in vats. Researchers claim that heterotrophic algae can reach densities in the dark that are 1,000 times higher than strains of algae that must be grown in the light.

    Since heterotrophic algae can be grown in the dark in tanks, you can stack them 100 feet deep underground or stack them 100 feet high above ground. Stack it in a high rise. Grow it using no additional land: in gray water in your basement, on your roof, under your back yard, or under a parking lot. Grow it on a barge. Take local sugars derived from corn or sweet sorghum or biomass or food and paper waste or sewage, and leverage the sugars to multiply algae hundreds of times. That is going to be your massive source of cellulose for ethanol, biodiesel, or for whatever fuel you want to synthesize.

    Corn ethanol refineries are going to be equipped with cellulosic ethanol capability. Heterotrophic algae will be grown in tanks on the waste products and sugars. This will multiply the ethanol output many times. Take all the corn sugar that is now going straight to ethanol, and instead, feed it to heterotrophic algae in tanks. At only 50X, that would be upwards of half a trillion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Or grow a variety of algae that would give you ethanol, biodiesel, and high protein feed.

  • Aureon Kwolek

    Cellulosic ethanol is unfolding right now, and this is liquid fuel that replaces foreign oil right now. Reuters reports that the U.S. is currently producing about 3 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol (CE) at pilot plants. CE Pilot plants will grow to 83.5 million gallons per year by 2011. Full blown commercial CE refineries that are planned and-or under construction will produce 225.5 million gallons by 2011. (Search: TABLE-Open and planned US cellulosic ethanol plants) This probably does not include every single project, as some are confidential and proprietary. And new projects are being announced on a regular basis.

    Using miscanthus, you can get an average of 25 tons per acre per year, and you can get 120 gallons of ethanol per ton or more. That would be 3,000 gallons per acre per year. For algae, the yield is 100 tons per acre, roughly 12,000 gallons or more per acre per year. This is using a 96% starch variety of algae.

    HETEROTROPHIC algae grows in the dark, and multiplies rapidly when fed sugars or biomass. This technology is being developed by Solazyme and others. East Kentucky University and General Atomics are leveraging local biomass by feeding it to heterotrophic algae grown in vats. Researchers claim that heterotrophic algae can reach densities in the dark that are 1,000 times higher than strains of algae that must be grown in the light.

    Since heterotrophic algae can be grown in the dark in tanks, you can stack them 100 feet deep underground or stack them 100 feet high above ground. Stack it in a high rise. Grow it using no additional land: in gray water in your basement, on your roof, under your back yard, or under a parking lot. Grow it on a barge. Take local sugars derived from corn or sweet sorghum or biomass or food and paper waste or sewage, and leverage the sugars to multiply algae hundreds of times. That is going to be your massive source of cellulose for ethanol, biodiesel, or for whatever fuel you want to synthesize.

    Corn ethanol refineries are going to be equipped with cellulosic ethanol capability. Heterotrophic algae will be grown in tanks on the waste products and sugars. This will multiply the ethanol output many times. Take all the corn sugar that is now going straight to ethanol, and instead, feed it to heterotrophic algae in tanks. At only 50X, that would be upwards of half a trillion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Or grow a variety of algae that would give you ethanol, biodiesel, and high protein feed.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    Check this out:

    TABLE-Open and planned US cellulosic ethanol plants

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN1952406520090219

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    Check this out:

    TABLE-Open and planned US cellulosic ethanol plants

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN1952406520090219

  • http://www.danielmoyer.net Dan Moyer

    Does it bother anyone else that instead of finding ways to stop creating smoke and exhaust, companies re finding ways to CONTINUE DO DO THAT!?

    BP should be focusing on either shutting down, or changing it’s name and producing energy that’s not going to continue to ruin the planet.

  • http://www.danielmoyer.net Dan Moyer

    Does it bother anyone else that instead of finding ways to stop creating smoke and exhaust, companies re finding ways to CONTINUE DO DO THAT!?

    BP should be focusing on either shutting down, or changing it’s name and producing energy that’s not going to continue to ruin the planet.

  • Uncle B

    Nothing the liquid fuel providers do will surpass the Electric power readily available in America from Solar, Wind, Wave, Tidal, Hydro, Geothermal and Nuclear fission. No engine they design, using spark ignition, compression ignition or Jet technologies can exceed or better the 400% greater efficiency of steel wheel to steel rail Electric bullet trains, and if China’s examples of this modern day miracle are any indication, nothing the liquid fuel folks do will ever approach the ground-speeds of these trains! Lrger, more luxurious accommodations for passengers exceeds anything automobiles or jet aircraft are likely to ever come up with, travel times are remarkably short, and cost per passenger very low – The Electric bullet trains will surpass cars and jet planes with the safety factors also, they are simply computer controlled and nuch safer that all other contenders. Liquid fuel providors will flail themselved to drath trying to maintain an impossible Status Quo, but gasoline and other liquid fuels are about to price themselfes off the market as America awkwardly shares more and more of the world’s finite resources with the blugeoning Asian fact of life, and must change to accommodate the new Asian reality in the world, and share the 80% of finite world resources with the Yuan and watch the U.S.Dollar fade in purchasing power to a point where it no longer can command the 80% of world’s finite resources required just to keep America as it is and not lacking for anything. Liquid fuels are a diminishing resource in this world, and even the best satellite reconnaissance cannot find targets to drill for light sweet crude oil, the lifeblood of America at the moment. Expect dramatic changes in America’s basic fabric as we pass from the not so abundant liquid fuel phase to the very abundant electric powered age. America will chart a course away from liquid fuels, or die “Third World” at best, struggling to maintain the liquid fuel paradigm, the choice for the corporatists in control is obvious but the current investment mechanisms are for the maintenance of the liquid fuel paradigm, and a great battle has already begun with the EV-1 electric car the forst victim! Google, torrent, the movie “Who Killed The Electric Car ” , study it and see if any other conclusions can be drawn.

  • Uncle B

    Nothing the liquid fuel providers do will surpass the Electric power readily available in America from Solar, Wind, Wave, Tidal, Hydro, Geothermal and Nuclear fission. No engine they design, using spark ignition, compression ignition or Jet technologies can exceed or better the 400% greater efficiency of steel wheel to steel rail Electric bullet trains, and if China’s examples of this modern day miracle are any indication, nothing the liquid fuel folks do will ever approach the ground-speeds of these trains! Lrger, more luxurious accommodations for passengers exceeds anything automobiles or jet aircraft are likely to ever come up with, travel times are remarkably short, and cost per passenger very low – The Electric bullet trains will surpass cars and jet planes with the safety factors also, they are simply computer controlled and nuch safer that all other contenders. Liquid fuel providors will flail themselved to drath trying to maintain an impossible Status Quo, but gasoline and other liquid fuels are about to price themselfes off the market as America awkwardly shares more and more of the world’s finite resources with the blugeoning Asian fact of life, and must change to accommodate the new Asian reality in the world, and share the 80% of finite world resources with the Yuan and watch the U.S.Dollar fade in purchasing power to a point where it no longer can command the 80% of world’s finite resources required just to keep America as it is and not lacking for anything. Liquid fuels are a diminishing resource in this world, and even the best satellite reconnaissance cannot find targets to drill for light sweet crude oil, the lifeblood of America at the moment. Expect dramatic changes in America’s basic fabric as we pass from the not so abundant liquid fuel phase to the very abundant electric powered age. America will chart a course away from liquid fuels, or die “Third World” at best, struggling to maintain the liquid fuel paradigm, the choice for the corporatists in control is obvious but the current investment mechanisms are for the maintenance of the liquid fuel paradigm, and a great battle has already begun with the EV-1 electric car the forst victim! Google, torrent, the movie “Who Killed The Electric Car ” , study it and see if any other conclusions can be drawn.

  • scott

    Until battery / capacitor technology is improved, liquid fuels will be here to provide extended range and ease of refueling for vehicles. Cellulosic Ethanol is a good solution until we have a better one with supercapacitors, hello eestor?

  • scott

    Until battery / capacitor technology is improved, liquid fuels will be here to provide extended range and ease of refueling for vehicles. Cellulosic Ethanol is a good solution until we have a better one with supercapacitors, hello eestor?

  • Pingback: Corrected: BP ups Verenium investment | The Big Biofuels Blog

  • Pingback: Corrected: BP ups Verenium investment | The Big Biofuels BlogThe Big Biofuels Blog

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