- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Shell Oil Bets on Brazilian Biofuels
1 February 2010 2:59 pm
SÃO PAULO—Big Oil is making one of its biggest biofuel investments to date with a $12 billion venture here that joins a major petroleum company with an ethanol producer. Cosan, Brazil’s largest biofuels maker, said today that it will merge its 23 ethanol-producing sugarcane mills with Royal Dutch Shell’s network of 2740 domestic gas stations. Research into a next-generation fuel—cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane—may have played a critical role in shaping the deal.
Until recently, Shell had been pooh-poohing ethanol, saying it didn’t plan to dive into production until more efficient, second-generation technologies came online. Following that strategy, Shell invested heavily in biotechnology companies like Ottawa, Canada-based Iogen Corp., which is developing cellulosic ethanol technology, and Codexis Inc. of Redwood City, California, a start-up that uses molecular methods.
Now, in a little noted part of the Cosan deal, Shell will roll its shares of Codexis and Iogen into the new Brazilian joint venture. Shell executive Mark Williams said in a press conference that the deal “is a big opportunity to accelerate the deployment of advanced processes.” The reason: Brazil’s sugarcane mills produce huge quantities of cheap cellulose in the form of sugarcane straw, a byproduct. And it isn’t just Shell eyeing those convenient piles of cellulose. Industry sources say many next-generation biofuels start-ups have been poking around Brazil.
Meanwhile, Brazilian companies are in need of new technology. For all its prowess in making cheap ethanol, Brazil, which spends relatively little on R&D, has fallen behind in the race to convert cellulose to fuel. “Iogen is pretty advanced in the conversion of cellulose,” Marcos Lutz, president of Cosan, said during a press conference in São Paulo. “The relevance to us is we have a lot of cellulose.”