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Madison company signs deal to make gas from plant sugars

Madison-based Virent Energy Systems and Shell Oil are involved in a five-year biofuel agreement to produce gasoline directly from plant sugars.

Virent CEO and President Eric Apfelbach says their fuel's production leaves a smaller carbon "footprint" is smaller than creating ethanol.

Also, the process uses a broad range of non-food grade sugars and carbohydrates.

Apfelbach says the product does not need a special infrastructure; it can be used immediately in pipelines and car engines.

Currently at their Madison facility, Virent has 16 pilot plants pumping out a gallon a day of the fuel.