10 May 2012:
Lack of Profitability Drives
U.S. Company Out of Biofuels Business
A U.S.-based company that used genetic engineering to develop a technology to convert sugar into biofuel has announced that it will stop producing the fuel, at least temporarily, because the process simply isn’t profitable. Amyris, a San Francisco firm that also produces cosmetic products, had engineered a type of yeast that can eat sugar and secrete an oil similar to diesel. While the company had some success using this process in the production of biofuels
, including for use by buses in Brazil, it achieved greater profits selling the chemicals for use in other products, such as moisturizers and fragrances, according to a report by MIT’s Technology Review
. According to the report, the average selling price for the company’s products is about $7.70 per liter ($29 per gallon), which is far higher than the cost of petroleum-based diesel. And even the $7.70 price was propped up by the amount the company can earn by producing moisturizers. According to Amyris officials, the company will stop producing biodiesels by mid-year, but the firm remains interested in developing commercial-scale fuel plants in the future.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.