Oil is not called black gold without a reason. It is the fuel that runs this world, at least for now. In a matter of time, perhaps a few decades or more, however, this fuel source is going to run out. And then, the world will be on the look for an alternative. It so seems that the oil giant, ExxonMobil is already working on such an alternative, in collaboration with Craig Venter.
The two had entered a research alliance back in 2009. The alliance essentially hinged on the condition that if Venter’s research was able to demonstrate sufficient oil production from algae, Exxon would dedicate a whopping $600 million of investment to make this technology commercial.
It has been some two years since Venter has been working on this project. And he seems hopeful of the progress. The problem with the available strains of algae is that they can never produce sufficient oil. And so, Venter and his team are tweaking the algae, somehow trying to create an algae that contains all the desirable properties to produce oil.
According to Venter, “Algae didn’t evolve to produce tens of thousands of gallons of oil per acre. So we have to force the evolution.” The progress of the project seems good enough to prompt Venter to launch a huge-scale growing operation of the algae. This is being done on an 81-acre site which has ponds to hold up to 240,000 gallons.
However, it would seem that the relationships have somewhat soured between Exxon and Venter. Venter, meanwhile, seems very hopeful of the project and thinks that it really can create an alternative and very viable source of fuel.