United States – ExxonMobil is abandoning its efforts to make environmentally benign fuels from algae after promoting them for more than ten years.
ExxonMobil has reduced its financial support for Viridos, a La Jolla, California-based biotech business that served as the oil giant’s primary technical partner ever since it started its algae drive in 2009. The biotech company had to lay off 60% of its workforce as Exxon funding dried up and it became impossible to recruit new partners. According to the biotech company, research on algae is still going forward.
ExxonMobil, on the other hand, stopped funding an expensive algae experiment at the Colorado School of Mines at the end of last year after eight years of sponsorship. Within a few weeks, another Exxon-supported project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will come to a conclusion.
Despite a stellar financial year in which it earned a record-breaking $59 billion in profits, ExxonMobil is pulling back from the algae market. And it happens right after substantial advancements in the study of algae: Recent accomplishments by Viridos and ExxonMobil include a seven-fold increase in the production of algae growing in outdoor ponds.
Oher low-carbon options
Attempting to create biofuels from algae cost the corporation more than $350 million in total, more than double what was spent on selling the product.
ExxonMobil is emphasizing other low-carbon options despite recent success with Viridos, even though it is still very difficult to generate huge quantities of algal biofuels profitably. This includes spending billions on carbon capture and storage.