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Biofuels Speed Ahead

ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics are going to start growing algae outdoors for biofuel, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The two companies teamed up in 2009 to explore the development of biofuel from algae. In a statement, the companies say that growing algae in large outdoor vats will enable them to better analyze viscosity and flow, which cannot easily be studied in the lab but are important for ramping up industrial production. The companies also say their joint algae biofuel research program has the potential of leading to the production of 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025.

"Our goal is to advance our algae biofuels research to outdoor testing, creating a perfect stepping stone from our lab to the greenhouse to the outdoors to lay the foundation for algae biofuel production at a scale that is economically cost competitive with petroleum-based products," Synthetic Genomics' Rob Brown tells the Union-Tribune. The company has also been developing engineered algae strains with increased yield of oil for biofuels.

The Union-Tribune adds that algae biofuels could have the same advantages as fossil fuels and could be delivered through existing infrastructure, but lower greenhouse gas emissions.