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Shell extends biofuels deal with 'super enzyme' maker Codexis

Energy giant signs on for more development of designer liquid fuels that have similar characteristics to today's fuels but are cleaner.

Fuels giant Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday that it has expanded its development partnership with Codexis to build advanced biofuels.

As part of the five-year deal, Shell will take an equity stake in the 5-year-old company and a seat on its board.

Shell said the extension of the existing research with Codexis will focus on using non-food biomass sources to make "high-performance fuels."

Rather than target ethanol production through this partnership, Shell intends to make hydrocarbons from plants--that is, low-carbon liquid fuels that closely resemble existing fuels.

Codexis has a process that allows it to create what it calls "super enzymes" tuned for specific purposes. Its technology is already used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Shell is extending its work with Codexis because Codexis' biocatalyst technology promises to make fuels from renewable sources in a cost-effective way, Graeme Sweeney, Shell executive vice president of future fuels and C02, said in a statement.

Other companies taking an enzymatic approach to making advanced biofuels include LS9 and Amyris Biotechnologies.