Money talks, but how can we know what it's saying? Exxon Mobil is investing $600 million into a 5- to 6-year algae biofuel project with biotech company Synthetic Genomics. The biofuel will be made from "sunlight, water and waste carbon dioxide by photosynthetic pond scum," writes the New York Times. After the first $600 million is used and if the technology appears to be working, billions more could follow in order to get the produciton process ready for commercial application. The goal is to produe liquid fuels that act "a lot like today's transportation fuels," Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co., told the TImes.

$600 million followed by billions more? That's not chump change, even for Exxon, and it might be a big enough amount to convince some environmentalists that Exxon is finally moving to renewables. Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace, said, "I'm guarding my optimism." It's a confusing time for oil/energy giants and their non-oil divisions. Recently, BP reduced the size of its alternative energy division.

Craig Venter founded Synthetic Genomics in 2005 to produce energy sources from modified microorganisms and has dabbled in making hydrogen and ethanol from organisms. Venter is also interested in using DNA to make gasoline, as he once explained to Stephen Colbert.

[Source: New York Times]
Photo by Basically Still. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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