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Facilities for the production of biofuel from algae. (Photo: Cellana)

Shell abandons algae biofuel efforts

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011, 15:30 (GMT + 9)

Shell has stopped its efforts to partake in the algae biofuel industry after Cellana bought out its shares.

Cellana is a joint venture founded by Shell and HR Biopetroleum (HRBP). 

Shell agreed through the transaction to give short-term funding to Cellana, which is now supported by stakeholders including the University of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium and the US Department of Energy (DOE), reports Renewable Energy World.

“In keeping with Shell’s portfolio approach to the research, development and commercialization of advanced biofuels, this decision will allow Shell to focus on other options that have shown a better fit with Shell’s biofuel portfolio and strategy,” Shell said in its official response.

Algae biofuel production. (Photo: Cellana)

Last year, Shell Chief Technology Officer Gerald Schotman said his company was to taper the range of its research from the then-10 advanced biofuel technologies to five this year. This would let the company concentrate on the biofuels they consider most relevant toward establishing a lucrative future.

“Based on HRBP’s and Cellana’s results to date, we believe this technology holds great potential for the economical production of algae and algae-derived products for applications within the aquaculture and animal feed markets, as well as for the production of algal oil for conversion into biofuels,” said Ed Shonsey, HRBP CEO, reports Biofuels Digest.

Having already received all the permits it needs, Cellana can now build a processing facility. It will be located adjacent to Maui Electric Co’s Maalaea Power Plant. 

Once the plant begins producing fuels in two to three years, it will burn algae biodiesel to create electricity.

Until that time, Cellana will keep its research and demonstration plants in Kona, Hawaii open.

“We’ve been working with Shell for a while, and we’d like to thank the company for its participation over the last few years and its willingness to enable us to do this,” said Cellana CEO Ed Shonsey.

In the meantime, Shell will be putting its efforts into its other biofuel ventures, such as a partnership with Cosan in Brazil for sugar-ethanol fuels, Iogen in Canada for the enzyme-based extraction of ethanol from straw, Codexis in the US for the development of stronger and faster fuel-production enzymes and a joint-technology scheme with Virent Energy Systems to turn plant sugars directly into high-energy liquid fuels.

By Natalia Real



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