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    Chevron Partners with Weyerhauser

    New company, Catchlight Energy, bets on cellulose to produce alternative energy.

    SEATTLE -- Chevron and Weyerhauser will form a new joint company called Catchlight Energy, which will focus on the development of alternative fuels that do not require the consumption of food crops.

    Weyerhaeuser, one of the largest producers of pulp and timber in the world, and Chevron, one of the largest oil companies in the world, will pursue new technologies for converting cellulose and lignin -- the compounds plants are made of -- into biofuels, reported the Bismark Tribune.

    "For renewable fuels to make a meaningful contribution we have to move beyond food-based feedstocks," Mike Wirth, Chevron vice president for global refining and marketing operations, told the paper.

    Weyerhaeuser President Dan Fulton said Catchlight will initially have offices at Weyerhaeuser's Federal Way, Wash., headquarters and at Chevron's San Ramon, Calif., headquarters. In total, Catchlight may employ 30 to 40 people for research and development. Fulton told the paper the company will study "not only the technology, but also the commercial implications of creating a viable business there."

    The U.S. government recently enacted a mandate for biofuel use and is turning its focus to cellulose. In January, the Department of Energy said it would invest up to $114 million in four small cellulosic ethanol biorefineries.

    Wirth conceded that in order to success, Catchlight must develop a sustainable business model "from the forest lands to the fuel." He told the paper that this process will involve harvesting timber, transporting it, breaking technological ground to process it into biofuel, and finding ways of transporting and distributing the fuel.

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