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Cargill and Virent to evaluate corn dextrose for biofuels and biochemicals

In the United States (US), global agri-commodities processor Cargill Inc., and biotechnology technology developer Virent, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, are working together to evaluate the use of Cargill’s corn dextrose as a feedstock to Virent’s "BioForming" technology for the production of “drop-in” low-carbon biofuels and biochemicals.

Located in Madison, Wisconsin (WI), Virent is working to commercialize its “BioForming” technology to create advanced biofuels and biochemicals from a wide range of naturally occurring, renewable resources. Using patented catalytic chemistry, Virent converts bio-based sugar feedstocks into products molecularly identical to those made from petroleum. Virent’s technology can produce a range of fuel products including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, as well as chemicals used for plastics, fibers, and films (photo courtesy Virent).

Biobased fuels and chemicals play a critical role in meeting the increasing global demand for more environmentally friendly sources of energy and plastics to make clothing, electronics, packaging, and building materials.

To explore the production of these renewable resources, Cargill and Virent, are working together to evaluate the use of Cargill’s corn dextrose as a feedstock to Virent’s BioForming technology for the production of “drop-in” low-carbon biofuels and biochemicals.

Virent’s BioForming technology uses sugars found in plants as a feedstock to produce drop-in renewable gasoline and jet fuel, as well as lower carbon biochemicals, including bio-paraxylene, a key raw material for producing 100 percent renewable and recyclable biopolyester.

The sugars may originate from any plant source, including first-generation crops such as corn, sugarcane, and sugar beet, as well as lignocellulosic materials derived from wood, corn stover, bagasse, and other sources.

We are working to scale up the BioForming process and are very pleased to announce our work with Cargill to study the availability of corn dextrose as a feedstock. We believe U.S. corn dextrose is an attractive feedstock for our process and expect this study to demonstrate how US corn dextrose can be used for broader applications to produce renewable gasoline, jet fuel, and biobased chemicals. Establishing the Virent BioForming process as a viable opportunity for producing jet fuel and renewable gasoline as a complement to ethanol will not only open new markets for corn but expand the greater opportunities for both renewable fuels and chemicals, said Dave Kettner, President of Virent.

Upon completion of the study, Virent will use the findings to evaluate options for scale-up and the development of a first commercial plant utilizing BioForming technology. The long-term objective is to use commercially available feedstocks today as a bridge to next-generation lignocellulosic feedstocks in the future.

Cargill is excited to take this next step in our long-standing journey with Virent. Virent’s biochemical R & D expertise and Bioforming technology combined with Cargill’s global strength in carbohydrate feedstock and expertise in corn processing makes this a natural joint effort. Building out the bioeconomy and increasing the diversification of our corn grind are both at the core of our strategy, making this an ideal project and highly compatible partnership for Cargill, said Cargill Managing Director, Mike Wagner.

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