Science: ExxonMobil Investing in Algae Technology

The Story:

The global petrochemical corporation ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) is hedging its bets, investing in alternative fuels. As one example: it has entered into a deal with a privately held biotech firm (Viridos). Exxon will assist Viridos in commercializing its low-carbon algae biofuel projects.


Viridos was founded in 2005, and soon established a reputation as a research leader, transplanting and synthesizing genomes to create synthetic cells.

In the past few years it has focused its attention on engineering energy-rich microalgae.

It believes that its bio-engineered strains of 2020 and 2021 “mark the inflection point toward deployment.” It has in mind the deployment of its algae fuel in heavy transport, aviation, commercial trucking, and maritime shipping.

Strange New Worlds:

John D. Rockefeller built Standard Oil in the late 19th century. It was broken up in 1911 in one of the great moments in the romantic era of antitrust law. But it was in effect put back together again in 1999, when the two largest parts, Exxon and Mobil, merged. Given this history, the agreement between XOM and Viridos looks like a symbolic passing of an energy-industry torch.

The financial terms of the XOM-Viridos deal have not been disclosed.

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