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  • Viridos Inc.

Viridos, ExxonMobil execute agreement to help scale algae-based renewable diesel, SAF

Viridos Inc., previously Synthetic Genomics, has signed a joint development agreement with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. with the intent to bring Viridos’ low carbon-intensity biofuels toward commercial levels.

“We’re excited to announce that ExxonMobil is continuing this collaboration with us to bring sustainable algae biofuels technology closer to commercial deployment,” said Oliver Fetzer, CEO of Viridos. “The recent productivity advances in Viridos’ technology are an opportunity to turn CO2 into renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), providing an essential component for the decarbonization of the heavy-duty transportation industry. In this next phase of the program, we intend to broaden participation and invite others to build the ecosystem required for full-scale deployment.”

Founded in 2005 by leaders in synthetic biology, Viridos established itself in innovative research by transplanting the first genome, synthesizing the first bacterial genome, and creating the first synthetic cell. In the past few years, Viridos’ leadership in engineering microalgae has achieved fivefold-plus oil productivity increases by increasing both the oil content in the algae and the algae yield. The results from outdoor deployment of Viridos’ bioengineered strains in 2020 and 2021 mark the inflection point toward deployment.

These advancements in bioengineering have positioned Viridos to be a leading enterprise in algal technology, according to the company, with the potential to facilitate significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the heavy-duty transportation sector. Viridos’ continued partnership with ExxonMobil seeks to build out the technology and agronomy to enable the commercial launch of Viridos’ low carbon-intensity algae biofuels. The algae biofuels could be used for aviation, commercial trucking, and maritime shipping. The terms of the renewed partnership with ExxonMobil should enable other interested parties to access and advance the technology, according to Viridos, to accelerate the deployment of its patented technology in pursuit of lowering global GHG emissions.

“Our research with Viridos is one facet of our approach to help society identify and deploy the biofuels needed to reduce emissions from important sectors of the economy, including heavy-duty transportation,” said Vijay Swarup, vice president of R&D at ExxonMobil. “ExxonMobil has supported Viridos in the development of advanced bioengineering tools, and we look forward to further advancements in the research that shows potential to help society mitigate the risks of climate change.”

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods explained Nov. 9 how the petroleum company is investing $15 billion in a lower-carbon future.


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