BP - British Petroleum

BP and Martek Biosciences enter a joint development agreement to deliver advanced biodiesels


Source: BP - British Petroleum

BP and Martek Biosciences Corporation (Nasdaq: MATK), have announced the signing of a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to work on the production of microbial oils for biofuels applications. The partnership combines a broad technology platform and operational capabilities to advance the development of a step-change technology for the conversion of sugars into biodiesel.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Martek and BP will work together to establish proof of concept for large-scale, cost effective microbial biodiesel production through fermentation.

“Martek is pleased to partner with BP’s Alternative Energy team, to combine our unique algae-based technologies and intellectual property for the creation of sustainable and affordable technology for microbial biofuel production,” said Steve Dubin, Martek CEO. “BP’s global leadership and commitment to alternative energy solutions complements Martek’s own commitment to responsible and sustainable products and production.”

“BP is very pleased to be entering this important partnership with Martek,” says Philip New, CEO BP Biofuels. “As an alternative to conventional vegetable oils, we believe sugar to diesel technology has the potential to deliver economic, sustainable and scaleable biodiesel supplies. In partnering with Martek, we combine the world’s leading know-how in microbial lipid production with our expertise in fuels markets and applications, and our more recent experience in biofuels production and commercialization.”

The technology has been demonstrated in Martek’s field for more than 20 years and the challenge is to adapt this technology to the needs of the biofuels market, in terms of product profile and economics.  Philip New added, “This technology is also a perfect fit with our other strategic choices for biofuels, all based on sustainable feedstocks and fermentation to produce advanced biofuels. It is part of our approach of integrating sugar cane and lignocellulosic biofuels with advanced technologies to produce products with a wide range of uses.”

BP has agreed to contribute up to $10 million to this initial phase of the collaboration which leverages Martek’s significant expertise in microbial oil production and BP’s production and commercialization experience in biofuels as the platform for the joint development effort. Martek will perform the biotechnology research and development associated with this initial phase, whilst BP will contribute to its integration within the biofuels value chain. All intellectual property owned prior to the execution of the JDA will be retained by each respective company, and all intellectual property developed during the JDA will be owned by BP, with an exclusive licence to Martek for application and commercialization in nutrition, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications. Additionally, each party is entitled to certain commercial payments from technology commercialized in the other party’s field.

Sugar to Biodiesel

The sugar to biodiesel pathway uses advanced biological science to convert sugars derived from biomass into lipids using unique fermentation micro-organisms; the lipids are then converted into fuel molecules through chemical or thermocatalytic processes.

  • Biodiesel produced from sustainable feedstocks via the fermentation of sugars will offer the potential to deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 80-90% when compared to traditional fossil fuel. Other advantages of this sugar to biodiesel pathway over conventional biodiesel made from vegetable oils include:
  • Access to a wide variety of biomass feedstocks such as sugar cane, sugar cane waste (bagasse), energy grass and woodchips, which can be produced at scale and in high yield.
  • Use of sustainable, non-food, plant biomass as its feedstock.
  • Ability to tailor the product for a variety of diesel and jet-fuel needs.
  • Reduced exposure to vegetable oil price.

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