BP and Martek Biosciences Corp. have signed a joint development agreement to work on the production of microbial oils for biofuels applications, BP announced in a press release this week.
The partnership will combine a broad technology platform and operational capabilities to convert sugars into biodiesel.
“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,” said 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.”
In Martek’s field, the technology has been used for more than 20 years, but the challenge is to adapt this technology to the needs of the biofuels market, in terms of product profile and economics.
New said the technology fits perfectly with BP’s other strategic choices for biofuels, all of which are 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,” he added.
BP will 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 the initial phase, while BP will contribute to its integration within the biofuels value chain. All intellectual property owned prior to the agreement will be retained by each respective company, and all intellectual property developed during the agreement will be owned by BP, with an exclusive license to Martek for application and commercialization in nutrition, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.
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, BP said in a press release. Other advantages of this sugar to biodiesel pathway compared to 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; the ability to tailor the product for a variety of diesel and jet-fuel needs; and reduced exposure to vegetable oil price.