This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 14, 2006

Chevron Enters Biofuels Business, Invests in Biodiesel Company

Chevron Corporation announced in late May that it has launched a biofuels business unit to advance the technology and pursue commercial opportunities relating to ethanol and biodiesel production. The biofuels business unit will operate within Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), a corporate subsidiary dedicated to identifying, developing, and commercializing emerging energy technologies. The subsidiary is currently involved in hydrogen-related technologies, advanced energy storage technologies, renewable energy, and nanotechnology.

Chevron announced the new business unit at the groundbreaking for a biodiesel plant in Galveston, Texas, that could eventually produce 100 million gallons of biodiesel per year—a significant number when compared to last year's biodiesel production in the United States, which totaled only 75 million gallons. Chevron is an investor in Galveston Bay Biodiesel, which is building the plant. The biodiesel facility will have an initial production capacity of 20 million gallons of biodiesel per year when it is completed later this year. See the Chevron press release.

Closeup of a group of round fruits growing from the branch of a tree.

The Jatropha plant grows green fruits, which later ripen and dry out to form dark pods containing oil-rich seeds.
Credit: Centre of Excellence for Jatropha Biodiesel Promotion

While soybean oil and other vegetable and seed oils are the current sources of biodiesel in the United States, other countries are producing the fuel from plants more suited to their climates. The Philippines is the world's second largest grower of coconuts, so President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has mandated the use of 1 percent "coco-biodiesel" in all diesel-fueled vehicles used by the government. Chemrez Inc. just opened a plant in the Philippines to produce nearly 16 million gallons of coco-biodiesel per year, and International Fuel Technology, Inc. (IFT) is currently working with CIIF Oil Mills Group, the country's largest coconut producer, to expand the use of the fuel. Meanwhile, in hot, semi-arid countries, farmers are growing Jatropha curcus, a drought-resistant perennial that produces seeds with an oil content of 37 percent. D1 Oils, a U.K.-based biodiesel company, currently holds agreements to purchase Jatropha seeds and oils grown on more than 100,000 acres of land in India, Southeast Asia, and southern Africa. See the press releases from Chemrez, IFT, and D1 Oils, and for more information on Jatropha, see the Centre of Excellence for Jatropha Biodiesel Promotion Web site.