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.
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