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Genencor in French Project for Cellulosic Ethanol from Paper Pulp

2 May 2006

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
Gallons Liters
Forest thinnings 82 310
Hardwood sawdust 101 382
Rice straw 110 416
Cane bagasse 112 424
Corn stover 113 428
Mixed paper 116 439

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.

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May 2, 2006 in Biotech, Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

so, they can make ethanol from recycled paper.

what about plastics into ethanol or deisel?

when will it be profitable to start mining our landfills, filled with usable metals, plastics, and other non-decomposing organics?

Organics in landfills biodegrade quite completely over 20 years period. Huge amounts of biogas (65% methane by V) nowadays are captured and used to electricity and heat generation. Nothing to mine here.

what about plastics into ethanol or deisel?
Three words: Gasification/Fischer-Tropsch.

when will it be profitable to start mining our landfills, filled with usable metals, plastics, and other non-decomposing organics?
Suspect it may already be. What is need is understanding of the issues involved by our elected leaders. Oh boy, I think we're toast.

anics in landfills biodegrade quite completely over 20 years period. Huge amounts of biogas (65% methane by V) nowadays are captured and used to electricity and heat generation. Nothing to mine here.
Not quite. Landfill gas is more like 40% methane. 65% would be digester gas as the sewage plant. While there is some degradation, Shaun made it pretty clear he was referring to non-decomposing organics.

Why wait 20 years for partial anaerobic decomposition if you can do a very complete and instantaneous job with gasification?

Also: Thermal Depolymerization/Thermal Conversion. The auto industry is looking into the process for recycling all the plastics from junked cars. I figure that's good for a few tens of thousands of barrels per day.

Yes, TDP would be great if it works as is claimed. The one existing TDP pant (Carthage, MO) currently converts mainly turkey grease (and some fat-soluble amino acids) into oil and gas. It is impressive enough, if you look at pictures of the feedstock, which includes whole turkeys.

The key question is whether TDP can convert water-soluble monomers (which would cover all carbohydrates, the bulk of the available biomass) into oil. It is claimed it can. That statement remains unproven. If true, TDP has huge potential.

An Engineer:

Can not agree with you. Biodegradation of cellulosic material produces 65% methane by volume no matter what. Good capped landfill produces biogas close to 60% methane due to air dilution, and considering this, WEIGHT part of methane is close to your number of 40%. Lignin, constituting up to 30% of biomass, is not biodegradable, and plastic is out of question too. However, thermal decomposition of domestic refuse produces high concentration of chlorine and ftor- bearing highly toxic dioxin and furans, due to presence of PVC and Teflon in garbage. It is better to bury it, not to combust, as was proved by highly questionable practice of refuse incineration.

Not so fast, Audrey!
Biodegradation of cellulosic material produces 65% methane by volume no matter what.
What, we are only putting paper in landfills? Or is it only the paper that breaks down? What happens to food waste, wood waste and dirty diapers?

Good capped landfill produces biogas close to 60% methane due to air dilution, and considering this, WEIGHT part of methane is close to your number of 40%.
I stand corrected, as do you: Landfill gas is 45 - 55% methane, 40 - 55% CO2, 4% inerts and 1% H2S - http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/758998-S9h1BA/native/758998.pdf

Lignin, constituting up to 30% of biomass, is not biodegradable, and plastic is out of question too.
What are you talking about? Lignin is produced by living organisms. Like anything else produced by living organisms (including bone and teeth) it is biodegradable. Or are you suggesting that forests are overtaken by lignin deposits after a few years?

However, thermal decomposition of domestic refuse produces high concentration of chlorine and ftor- bearing highly toxic dioxin and furans, due to presence of PVC and Teflon in garbage. It is better to bury it, not to combust, as was proved by highly questionable practice of refuse incineration.
Read up on TDP, then we can talk. Hint: TDP is not incineration. It is claimed that TDP destroys PVC without producing dioxins. Based on the process chemistry that is quite possible.

One of TDP's claim to fame is its ability to convert plastic waste to oil, at high yields. They are working on a project to convert seat foam from old cars into oil!

Well, not quite. I worked on the subject and can assure you, that reported data is widely variable. However, the consensus is:
Anaerobic digestion degrades cellulosic content of the refuse with 65% methane yield by volume. It includes paper, cardboard, and wood residue. Anaerobic degradation of food waste (carbohydrates, proteins, and fat) yields even more per cent of methane. Actual numbers of per cent of refuse converted to biogas are vary substantially according to recycling of paper/cardboard pattern, content of food residue, amount of garden waste, moisture content, etc. Lignin content, up to 40% at wood, 30% at paper, and 60% at cardboard is not generally anaerobically biodegradable. Thought it is Aerobically biodegradable, so no substantial accumulation at forest floor is possible (thought it is main ingredient of lignite coal, the most yang one) .

I'd like to see the mandatory conversion of roadside biomass to ethanol (think of all those rights-of-way and the amount of grass and other plants cut on each roadway several times per year. Maybe governments would give us all a break on our property taxes if some of our public domains generated some incidental income! I wonder what the chart above might show for Johnson grass that covers the American South's roadways!

In an effort to "go green" our school district will be using bagasse food trays. We have concerns that these trays will not breakdown in a landfill where there's no
sunlight. Will bagasse breakdown aneroebically and, if so, how?
Ruth Fogg

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