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Exxon, Synthetic Genomics Double Lipid Production of Algae

ABO members Exxon Mobil Corp and Synthetic Genomics Inc have announced a new breakthrough that can double the production of lipids in algae, with little effect on growth rates.

The new findings were published in Nature Biotechnology, and are an important step in the partnership between Exxon and Synthetic Genomics to finds ways for algae to become a source of energy that doesn’t compete with food, water resources, or have such negative impacts on the climate as fossil fuels. 

The genetically modified algae species Nannochloropsis gaditana was able to convert 40 percent of CO2 into lipids, a big jump over prior 15-20 percent levels. Lipids in algae are the oils that can be converted into a variety of useful products for people, including fuels that are chemically identical to those that are processed by modern refineries. 

The partnership between these two companies dates to 2009, and both have been committed to developing algae into a technology that can offer solutions to a number of global challenges. Exxon also recently became a sponsor of the 2017 Algae Biomass Summit, coming up this fall in Salt Lake City.

Read more in this Reuters story, and this press release.  Exxon’s Science & Technology blog also takes a look behind the scenes.

Congratulations to the team that made this happen!  

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