Racing to build a better biofuel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Thomas Content of the Milwaukee State Journal
October 19th, 2010
Madison’s Virent Energy Corp. is getting exposure for its sugar-derived biofuel, which is being used in the tank of a Scuderia Ferrari Formula One race car.
Working with Shell, Virent’s technology partner, Scuderia Ferrari is using a blend of Virent’s biogasoline and next-generation ethanol sourced from straw.
Here’s a look at the car:
Since March, Shell has supplied Ferrari with fuel containing cellulosic ethanol developed by Iogen Energy of Ottawa, Canada. For the remaining three races of the Formula One season, beginning with the South Korea Grand Prix, Shell’s fuel will contain both Virent’s and Iogen’s biofuels.
The exact blend of the various fuels isn't being disclosed, said Virent spokeswoman Mary Blanchard.
Luis Scoffone, Shell vice president of alternative energies, said in a statement the announcement demonstrates Shell’s confidence in the biofuels being made in Madison by Virent.
In the statement, Lee Edwards, Virent chief executive, said, “The use of Virent’s biogasoline produced at our facility in Madison, Wisconsin in the Formula One Grand Prix championship gives further support and credibility for our partnership with Shell and our commercialization plans.”
Virent, which now has 95 employees, announced this summer that it raised $46.4 million from Shell, Cargill and Honda. That move gave Royal Dutch Shell plc a seat on Virent’s board of directors. Virent and Shell opened a biorefinery in Madison last fall.
The Virent technology, described above, uses catalysts to convert plant sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline-blend components. Virent’s biogasoline has an energy content similar to premium gasoline. Virent says the sugars can be sourced from non-food sources such as corn stover, wheat straw and sugar cane residue, as well as conventional biofuel feedstocks like sugar beet, corn, wheat or sugar cane.
Submitted by mwisniewski on Wed, 2010-10-20 09:30