Virent Energy Systems, a biofuel company based in Madison, Wisconsin, has received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award for its low-energy water-based process for producing fuels. Using its proprietary BioForming process that uses nearly zero outside energy other than what's generated by the fermentation process, Virent's can generate the same range of hydrocarbon molecules now refined from petroleum. That means the same process can create gasoline, diesel or jet fuel from nearly any cellulosic biomass, including those not typically used for food. Further, the BioForming process can be quickly modified to produce fuel without altering the feedstock.

Due to the low power requirements for the production of Virent's biofuels, the firm boasts a 20- to 30-percent cost advantage over today's ethanol. Soon, the company plans to compete directly with petroleum-based fuels on the open market with a 10,000-gallon-per-year pilot plant. If Virent's analysis is correct, the company's fuel will be competitive as long as fossil fuels hover around $60 per barrel.

[Source: US EPA via Green Car Advisor]

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