SAN RAMON, Calif. -- Chevron Corporation and the University of California, Davis have formed a strategic research collaboration to pursue advanced technology aimed at converting cellulosic biomass into transportation fuels.

The joint research effort will coordinate with the California Biomass Collaborative to focus on renewable feedstocks available in California, including agricultural waste such as rice straw.

Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, plans to support a broad range of UC Davis scientists and engineers with funding of up to $25 million over five years for research into and development of these emerging energy technologies.

The objective of the Chevron-UC Davis research is to develop commercially viable processes for the production of transportation fuels from renewable resources such as new energy crops, forest and agricultural residues, and municipal solid waste. The collaboration calls for research in biochemical and thermochemical conversion, as well as a demonstration facility to test the commercial readiness of these technologies.

"We think it's important to pursue research that could accelerate the use of biofuels, since we believe they may play an integral role in diversifying the world's energy sources," said Don Paul, vice president and chief technology officer, Chevron Corporation. "Developing next-generation processing technology will help broaden the choice of feedstocks, including cellulosic materials."

Rick Zalesky, vice president of Biofuels and Hydrogen, Chevron Technology Ventures, said, "Once developed, next-generation processing technology will allow locally grown biomass to be harvested, processed into transportation fuels and distributed to consumers."

Chevron's interest in next-generation biofuels is a very good fit with UC Davis' expertise in alternative fuels and transportation systems, said Barry Klein, vice chancellor for research, UC Davis.

"UC Davis already has top research and teaching programs on hydrogen and biofuels, as well as electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, and power generation from biomass. We also have strong programs in converting food- processing wastes and agricultural residues to energy," Klein said. "Adding Chevron's support for biofuel studies to the picture complements our present efforts and puts us all closer to our shared goal of driving on clean, affordable energy."

Chevron and UC Davis formed the collaboration because their research and development goals related to emerging energy technologies are closely aligned.

The collaboration is expected to focus its research on four areas:

  • understanding the characteristics of current California biofuel feedstocks;

  • developing additional feedstocks optimized for features such as drought tolerance, minimal land requirements and harvesting technology;

  • production of cellulosic biofuels;

  • design and construction of a demonstration facility for biochemical and thermochemical production processes.

  • The alliance with UC Davis is the second biofuels research partnership launched by Chevron this year. In June, Chevron and the Georgia Institute of Technology formed a strategic research alliance focusing on cellulosic biofuels and hydrogen.

    Chevron also is investing in conventional biofuels. Chevron has formed a biofuels business unit to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of biofuels in the United States. The company has invested in a new biodiesel facility in Galveston, Texas, that aims to produce diesel fuel from soybeans and other renewable feedstocks. Chevron is investing across the energy spectrum to explore development of energy sources for future generations by expanding the capabilities of today's alternative and renewable energy technologies.

    Since 2000, Chevron Corporation, through its various subsidiaries, has spent more than $1.5 billion on renewable energy projects and on delivering energy efficiency solutions. Focus areas include geothermal, hydrogen, biofuels and advanced batteries as well as wind and solar technologies. Chevron is the largest renewable energy producer among global oil and gas companies, producing 1,152 megawatts of renewable energy, primarily from geothermal operations in Indonesia and the Philippines.

    Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, identifies, develops and commercializes emerging technologies and new energy systems including biofuels, hydrogen-related technologies, advanced energy storage technologies, renewable energy and nanotechnology.
    Chevron is one of the world's leading energy companies. With more than 53,000 employees, Chevron subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries around the world, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas, and refining, marketing, and distributing fuels and other energy products. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif.

    The University of California is one of the world's foremost research and teaching institutions, and UC Davis is the University of California's flagship campus for agricultural and environmental studies. UC Davis is a global leader in solving problems related to air and water quality, water and land use, agricultural practices, endangered and invasive plants and animals, climate change, resource economics, information technology, and human society and culture.

    The California Biomass Collaborative is made up of representatives from the California biomass industry, state and local government agencies, the environmental community, the University of California, federal agencies and laboratories, and other related academic and public organizations. The goal of the collaborative is to enhance the sustainable and effective use of biomass as an energy source in California.

    SOURCE: Chevron Corporation via PR Newswire.