General Interest news briefs, June 14

US Department of Energy awards biodesulfurization research grant to Enchira Biotechnology Corp.; Caltex Australia Ltd. plans new supermarkets.

The US Department of Energy has awarded a $900,000 grant to Enchira Biotechnology Corp. (formerly Energy Biosystems Corp.), The Woodlands, Tex., to conduct research and development on the biodesulfurization of gasoline feedstocks. With this DOE funding, Enchira will use its proprietary gene-shuffling technology to attempt to develop a biocatalyst to remove sulfur from gasoline. The grant will fund the project through May 2001. This is the third year of a 3-year program; the previous 2 years were devoted to developing analytical methods, developing host bacterial strains, and creating models.

Caltex Australia Ltd. plans to open another 42 supermarkets by the end of this year. The company already operates 130 convenience stores attached to its service stations, but it has also linked with grocery wholesaler David's to sell items from toothpaste to fresh fruit, meat, and vegetables at its new supermarkets. Caltex says sales from fuel stations with convenience stores currently comprise 45% fuel and 55% store items. Competitors' petrol stations sell 70% fuel and 30% store content.

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