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Shell to Produce Biogasoline

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Shell Oil Company has partnered with Virent Energy Systems of Madison, Wisconsin, to
develop a process that converts various sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline-blending
components. This could lead to new biofuels that may be added at high percentages into
standard gasoline engines. These biofuels could potentially eliminate the need for
specialized distribution infrastructures and new engine designs. Virent’s BioForming
process employs catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules that are
similar to those produced in an oil refinery. The new biogasolines reportedly have a higher
energy content than ethanol, can be readily blended into conventional gasoline or combined
with gasoline containing ethanol, and produce better fuel mileage. The sugar can be
produced from non-food sources such as corn stover, sugarcane pulp, switchgrass and wheat
straw, so it won’t drive up food prices. After a year of research, the companies report
that the process has advanced faster than expected, exceeding expectations for yield, cost
and quality. Now they will work to further improve the technology and scale-up production.

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