Oil companies funding biofuel research, Codexis is one example

WSJ.com has an article on Royal Dutch Shell and others investing in biofuel research.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has roughly doubled its financial support for biofuels start-up Codexis Inc. in the past year, the latest sign that oil companies are slowly and selectively increasing their interest in plants-to-fuels research.

Shell is on pace to spend $60 million in 2009 to fund research at Codexis, nearly twice the amount as the year before, according to regulatory filings. Codexis filed paperwork this week for a $100 initial public offering. The start-up is developing microbes to speed up the chemical reactions that turn inedible plants, such as grasses or stalks, into ethanol and diesel.

The Energy Information Administration projects the fuel growth from 2008 to 2022.


Other oil companies are investing too in biofuels.

Other crude-oil companies also have increased spending on biofuels. Exxon Mobil Corp. said this summer it would spend $600 million over five or six years on a partnership with Synthetic Genomics Inc. to develop a way to turn algae into motor fuels. Chevron Corp. entered into a relationship in October with Mascoma Corp. to investigate plant-based fuel. And BP PLC created a venture with Verenium Corp. this year to build a fuel plant in central Florida next year.

Codexis is one example.

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Codexis is focusing on pharmaceutical and biofuels which makes sense given their investors.

Codexis is a privately-held company, with investors including:

  • Bio*One Capital
  • Chevron Technology Ventures
  • CMEA Capital
  • FirstMark Capital
  • GE Energy
  • Maxygen, Inc.
  • Pfizer
  • Shell