I was not surprised to find out that Exxon Mobil was discontinuing its algae biofuels program with Synthetic Genomics. Actually, they are "refocusing" their research.
Exxon Mobil, which has invested more than $100 million to develop algae-derived biofuels, is refocusing its research with Synthetic Genomics Inc. after almost four years of work failed to produce economically viable results.
Exxon, the world’s biggest maker of gasoline and diesel, and Synthetic Genomics “have gained significant understanding of the challenges that must be overcome to deliver scalable algae-based biofuels,” Exxon spokesman Charles Engelmann said yesterday by e-mail. The company, based in Irving, Texas, began the program in 2009 and said it would invest $600 million to develop fuels within a decade. It has already spent more than $100 million, Engelmann said...
Results since 2009 have indicated that “simple modifications of natural algae would not provide a level of performance that we believed would be economical or viable for a commercial solution,” Flatt said yesterday by telephone.
Back to the drawing board!
I knew Exxon's program was destined to fail. I also knew that Craig Venter, the founder of Synthetic Genomics, was an overrated blowhard with an ego the size of New Jersey. (He does lots of Ted Talks.) Some techno-optimists are mere pikers compared to Venter.
Still, when I saw the Bloomberg story, all I could think about was the Petroleum Broadcasting Company (PBS). Marketing was the name of this game.
If Exxon hadn't spent that $100 million, we wouldn't have had to endure egregious bullshit like this—
And for those of you in in the reality-based community, here's Greg Dalton of Climate One talking about the alternative fuels strategy of the oil companies.
Have a nice weekend.