Issue Date: June 13, 2011
Virent Makes Xylene, Gasoline From Plants
Virent Energy Systems, a Madison, Wis.-based biofuels start-up that has backing from Shell and Cargill, says it has successfully made p- xylene from plant sugars and gasoline from cellulosic biomass. Virent’s BioForming process partially deoxygenates and then reforms sugar, converting it to a hydrocarbon blend. Virent says p-xylene made with its technology is suitable for conversion into the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) raw material purified terephthalic acid. Beverage makers have been seeking a plant-based route to plastics. In March, Pepsi announced plans to introduce a PET bottle entirely derived from biomass (C&EN, March 21, page 22). Separately, Virent used its BioForming process to convert cellulose that had undergone sulfuric acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis into a gasoline-like fuel. That work was conducted in collaboration with the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium.
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