Genencor International, a US-based biotech subsidiary of Danisco A/S, is participating in a research consortium to develop economic ethanol production from paper pulp in cooperation with the French forest products industry.
The €1.2-million (US$1.5-million) three-year project is sponsored by the French National Research Program for Bioenergy (PNRB, ANR) and managed by ADEME. The French National Research Agency will provide 50% of the funding to the partners.
Besides Genencor, other partners include: Tembec R&D Kraft, INSA Toulouse’s Laboratory for Biotechnology & Bioprocessing, and the University of Bordeaux’s Pine Institute. The Pine Institute is the project leader and coordinator.
The project’s objective is to deliver a baseline study of the technical and economic results of a small pilot plant installed at a pulp mill with a special focus on waste minimization of the milling process.
Genencor will provide its advanced biomass cellulases and application expertise to optimize the enzymatic hydrolysis of various paper pulp samples provided by Tembec and the Pine Institute.
In addition to providing substrate samples, Tembec will also analyze the economics to evaluate the system for commercial deployment by the pulp industry.
INSA’s Laboratory for Biotechnology and Bioprocessing will provide fermentation expertise through its Microbiology Engineering Team. The Pine Institute will share its expertise in pulping and handling; and, in lignocellulose analysis and characterization.
This is an excellent project to establish the viability of an advanced cellulosic biorefinery for ethanol production.
Genencor has been working at the bench scale in lab conditions on one part of the technical challenge. This project links us with others in the value chain to integrate several unit operations into a whole system-level design. This is a critical step in the development of advanced biorefineries attached to the paper pulp industry.—Jack Huttner, vice president of Genencor
|Theoretical Ethanol Yields|
|Feedstock||Yield per dry ton|
Genencor is the result of a 1982 joint venture between Genentech and Corning to exploit the industrial applications of protein engineering.
The company worked on enhanced cellulsase development as part of a DOE-finded project over a 4-year period beginning in June 2000, with the goal of developing an improved low-cost cellulase for biomass conversion to ethanol.
The original program targeted a 10-fold cellulase cost reduction; the program achieved a 30-fold reduction, down to $0.10 to $0.20 per gallon on a model substrate.
Genencor developed an enhanced production organism (Trichoderma reesei) to produce all the key activities for the enhanced cellulase (improved thermostability iand enhanced cellulolytic activities) in one host.
Danisco A/S, one of the world’s largest producers of food ingredients, acquired Genencor in 2005.