Oil and gas giant BP PLC announced June 14 it would devote nearly half-a-billion dollars to find alternatives to the carbon-based fuels upon which much of its business depends.
The London-based energy producer said the $500 million will be spent over the next 10 years to establish a dedicated biosciences energy research laboratory. The research center, called the BP Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), will be associated with a major academic center in the United States or United Kingdom.
Three keys areas of bioscience will draw initial focus, including:
- developing new biofuel components and improving the biofuels currently blended with transport fuel;
- devising new techniques to accelerate the conversion of organic matter to biofuel molecules, aimed at improving the proportion of a crop that can be used for feedstock;
- developing plant species that produce a higher yield of energy molecules and can be grown on land unsuitable for food production.
"By creating this integrated and dedicated research center, we plan to harness a technical discipline with enormous potential to provide new energy solutions," said BP Group CEO John Browne. "We expect demand for biofuels to rise significantly through the next decade to meet consumer desire for more environmentally responsible products and to satisfy the requirements of governments for more energy to be home-grown."
The BP Energy Biosciences Institute aims to launch research programs by late 2007, BP said, adding that discussions with prospective universities already are in the works.