Cellulosic Biofuels

We’re determined to do biofuels well, so the use of alternative feedstocks that minimize any pressure on food supplies is an important part of our strategy. We are focusing on producing biofuels from agricultural waste and energy crops.

A significant strand of the company’s strategy is developing next generation cellulosic biofuel technologies and licensing them for commercial use globally.

BP’s biofuels activities include the development of proprietary biomass-to-ethanol conversion technology, a leading edge research and development (R&D) capability and a biofuels demonstration facility necessary to advance the company’s cellulosic biofuels strategy. 

Key facts

  • In 2010, BP acquired cellulosic biofuels assets from Verenium Corporation. BP and Verenium had previously been partners in cellulosic-ethanol technology development.
  • The BP Biofuels Global Technology Center is a purpose-built R&D facility in San Diego, California where bio-scientists are advancing the technology to commercialize cellulosic biofuels. BP owns a large portfolio of intellectual property rights throughout the cellulosic biofuels value chain encompassing propriety conversion technology.
  • BP operates a 1.4 million gallon cellulosic demonstration facility in Jennings, Louisiana. Here, the cellulosic technology licencing package is being tested and understood.

Research and development capability

The BP Biofuels Global Technology Center is a world-class research facility, where leading scientists and technologists are generating innovations in the biofuels industry. Their expertise in the areas of enzymology, synthetic biology, fermentation, characterization and bioprocess engineering allows BP to deliver an economically viable process for cellulosic ethanol production. Their skills and track-record in process innovation and ultra-high through-put experimentation complement BP’s traditional capabilities in engineering, project management and technology deployment.

Recognising the importance of bioscience, not only to BP‘s biofuels business but also the company as a whole, BP appointed a Group Chief Bioscientist in 2010 and has invested $500 million over ten years in the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI). The EBI and San Diego laboratories are truly complementary, the EBI conducting early stage R&D on a wide range of long-term targets, while San Diego focuses on industrial R&D, inventing, developing and commercializing specific biofuels microorganisms and manufacturing processes. 

Proving the technology

By developing robust technology, BP will have the capability to deploy the cellulosic technology package at commercial facilities for use in biofuel production globally. BP’s demonstration facility in Jennings, Louisiana, supports this objective. The facility includes integrated enzyme manufacturing, fermentation facilities and associated laboratory facilities.