ExxonMobil and UW-Madison to extend alternative jet fuel research


Global energy company ExxonMobil has extended an agreement with University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) in the US by another two years to research the conversion of biomass into jet and other transportation fuels.

The research leverages the university’s expertise in biomass conversion, and ExxonMobil’s resources and technological capabilities.

As part of the research, UW-Madison Harvey D Spangler chemical and biological engineering professor George Huber has already been working with ExxonMobil to better understand the basic chemical transformations that occur when biomass is converted into diesel and jet fuels.

The scientists aim to use the research to identify scalable and commercially viable solutions, which are capable of meeting growing global energy demand with a renewable resource.

“We expect to use the same type of catalytic technologies that are already used in the petrochemical industry to convert oil into fuels and chemicals.”

Huber said: “Biofuels have the potential to become a significant option for meeting growing global demand for diesel and jet fuel if low-cost and scalable technologies can be developed.

“The focus of this fundamental research is to demonstrate technologies that could make such a scenario possible.

“We expect to use the same type of catalytic technologies that are already used in the petrochemical industry to convert oil into fuels and chemicals.”

For the last two years, scientists from UW-Madison and ExxonMobil have been developing a multistep approach to convert cellulosic biomass to transportation fuels.

Under the renewed partnership, the researchers will try to explore a new strategy that could optimise the processing method.

They are also expected to study the catalytic transformation of bio-derived ethanol into bio-derived diesel and jet fuel.

Ethanol has currently been produced from various sources and is widely used as an additive to gasoline.

This technology has the potential to enable larger diesel and jet fuel molecules to be produced from renewable sources.

According to ExxonMobil, its research with UW-Madison will continue to focus on non-food sources, including corn stover and other cellulosic feedstocks, which could be turned into biofuel.