Virent, Shell study finds biogasoline safe in vehicles

Virent successfully completed its first road fleet test, the company announced on Tuesday. Organized and executed by collaborator Shell, Virent’s biogasoline was found to cause no harm to vehicles in comparison to Shell’s baseline fuel.

Shell used five identical pairs of late-model European cars for the road trial.

Five cars used a baseline Shell gasoline, and the other five cars used Shell gasoline blended with Virent’s biogasoline.

Each car was driven 10,000 km (6,000 miles) over the course of 2010, after which the engines were dismantled and inspected.

All 10 cars, regardless of the gasoline used, were found to be in the same condition.

“The Shell road trial results are encouraging and an important step forward in the commercialization of the BioForming process,” said Lee Edwards, CEO of Virent.

“Our objective is to replace gasoline made from crude oil with gasoline made from plant sugars, and the fact that the Virent fueled cars performed the same shows we’re off to a good start.”

The road trial is one of many steps in Virent’s journey towards fuel certification, the company said.

The Virent process uses continuous catalytic chemistry to convert plant sugars directly into a premium gasoline blendstock, with molecular composition identical to fuel made at a petroleum refinery.

The sugars can be sourced from conventional biofuel feedstocks such as sugar beets, corn and sugar cane, or as proven recently, from cellulosic biomass like corn stover and pine residuals.

Virent’s fuels and chemicals are considered “drop-in,” meaning they can be blended seamlessly into other fuels at high percentages and without any changes to fuel infrastructure.

The company’s patented process creates industry-ready molecules that can utilize existing refineries, pipelines, tanks, trucks, stations and pumps, powering the engines of cars, trucks, motorcycles, watercraft and other gasoline powered small engines.

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