Dr. Randy D. Cortright
Dr. James A. Dumesic
Bio Fuels/Bio Chemicals
TSC MEMBER INSTITUTION(S):
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Department of Energy
VIRENT ENERGY SYSTEM INC.
ABOUT THE COMPANY:
Virent is in the business of replacing crude oil. The company applies clever chemistry to create the chemicals and fuels the world demands from a wide range of naturally occurring, renewable resources. Using patented catalytic chemistry, Virent converts soluble biomass-derived sugars into products molecularly-identical to those made with petroleum, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemicals use for plastics and fibers. The development of Virent’s BioForming technology platform is supported through active investors including Cargill, Shell and Honda. The company has 100 employees and is based in Madison, Wisconsin. The company has received numerous honors, including the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer award and the EPA’s Presidents Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
UNIVERSITY-BASED RESEARCH CONNECTION:
Virent Energy System’s Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) technology was discovered by Dr. Randy D. Cortright and Dr. James A. Dumesic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The initial discovery showed that it was possible to convert aqueous solutions of oxygenated compounds such as ethylene glycol, glycerol, sorbitol, and corn sugar over heterogeneous catalysts and generate either hydrogen or non-oxygenated hydrocarbons depending on catalyst composition and reaction conditions. The generated hydrogen could be used as either a fuel or chemical, and the non-oxygenated hydrocarbon could be used as either a fuel gas or liquid transportation fuel. These initial discoveries were patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), Cortright and Dumesic founded Virent in June 2002, and Virent obtained an exclusive license for the APR technology from WARF. Virent has grown now to over 100 employees and has extended the utility of the APR technology for the generation of chemicals, gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel.
ROLE OF FEDERAL RESEARCH FUNDING:
The initial discovery of APR at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was funded by a grant from DOE’s Basic Energy Science Group.
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