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Dyadic Making Progress with Enzyme Mixtures for Cellulosic Ethanol

13 July 2006

C1
Chrysosporium lucknowense is the basis for Dyadic’s enzyme work.

Dyadic International, a biotechnology company, will report today at the Third Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Toronto, Canada, that it has identified and tested highly effective enzyme mixtures for the efficient conversion of renewable cellulosic biomass to ethanol.

Dyadic scientist Marco Baez, Ph.D. is presenting results of an internal study on Dyadic’s proprietary cellulase and hemicellulase mixes with strong saccharifying activity on a number of different lignocellulosic feedstocks, including Douglas fir and cotton.

In addition, Dr. Baez will present data showing the results of an internal study of two new highly active cellobiohydrolases isolated from Dyadic’s patented Chrysosporium lucknowense fungal strain (known as C1), as well as a mixture of pure monocomponent enzymes, all of which demonstrated an extremely high ability to convert different cellulosic substrates to glucose to then be fermented into ethanol.

We are making meaningful strides toward the production of low-cost ethanol from biomass. The key hurdles that must be overcome for the large-scale commercial production of low-cost ethanol from renewable biomass are to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of the enzymes used to extract glucose and other sugars from the cellulolytic feedstocks.

The results to be presented today show that we are making rapid progress in the development of potent enzyme mixtures that work well in the cellulosic ethanol application. Dyadic has filed a patent application with the US Patent Office for these new enzymes and mixtures containing these enzymes.

—Dr. Glenn Nedwin, Chief Science Officer

Separately, Dyadic noted that in a recent publication (BC Saha and M.A. Cotta, Biotech. Prog. 22:449-453, 2006), researchers at the US Department of Agriculture measured the efficiency of various commercially available enzyme preparations (including Dyadic’s Viscostar 150L) on wheat straw pretreated with alkaline peroxide for the extraction of glucose and other sugars.

...unlike corn fiber hemicellulose, which is very resistant to hydrolysis using commercial enzymes, wheat straw hemicellulose can be easily hydrolyzed enzymatically by using a single xylanase preparation (Viscostar) after alkaline peroxide treatment.

—Badal Saha and Michael Cotta

Dyadic is also investigating applying its C1 and other technologies to develop enzymes to convert distillers dried grains—DDG, a byproduct of corn ethanol production—into fermentable sugars to further extend the ethanol yield per bushel of corn. Dyadic estimates it can deliver a 10-20% yield improvement.

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July 13, 2006 in Biotech, Cellulosic ethanol, Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (2)

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Comments

It is very importent step towards cost reduction in production of ethanol form lignocellulosic material

Developing of such enzyme will be the major step towrds cost reduction in ethanol production from lignocellulosic material.

Pratap

Since distillers dried grains are a useful animal feed, this company will have to make a very cost effective enzyme if they want to convert that byproduct into more ethanol. The value of the resulting ethanol, minus the costs of converting DDG into ethanol (that includes the cost of these enzymes) must be greater than the price that DDG would fetch when sold to cattlemen or poultry farmers. If they can come up with something cheap and effective, that only adds to the flexibility of the ethanol manufacturing market, which is generally a good thing.

If this process increases the energy balance of corn ethanol, it's a good thing.

The progress on the cellulostic front will almost certainly mean better energy balance than what we currently see in conventional corn ethanol. The DDG developments are a bit more of a wash, considering that DDG is already a somewhat useful product. Still -- if there's a market for DDG to ethanol, why not?

There is no doubt that Dyadic is achieving major advances in sustainable biofuels production.

However, sustainability requires us to look at the whole picture, otherwise, the weak links can render the process unsustainable.

In this case, the weakest link is the topsoil used to grow the crops for cellulose ethanol and bioplastics. The lessons of the past should be heeded. If we also process the DDGS into industrial products, we are destroying the essential link of returning the DDGS, which contain ALL of the soil nitrates, phosphates, sulphates, and trace elements, back to the soil from whence they came. A few years down the line our proud "sustainable" ethanol-based economy will hit the brick wall of depleted soils and reduced productivity, and the whole enterprise will be history.

On the other hand, by returning the DDGS back to the soil from which it originated, not only are all the bioavailable elements (except for H20 and CO2 embodied in the ethanol) returned to their source, but the soil fertility is increased by about 10% per year, because the mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria in the soil become hyperactivated by the DDGS, and begin to do what they do so well - breaking down insolubles (rock!) into the solubles essential for soil and plant health.

In addition, enough of the plant must be left behind at harvest to produce a positive carbon balance in the soil. Then we will be blessed with the apparent paradox that the more we plant, the thicker and better the soil will become.

Let the bitter lessons of the past inform our actions in the future. If we get greedy, we die. If, instead of regarding Nature as a bottomless source of feedstock to exploit for profit, we recognize her as a partner who will provide us with unimaginable benefits if we consider her well-being to be as important as ours, then we will be able to recreate a paradise on earth for ourselves and future generations.

Frank Michael

Other side of the coin:  the yeast from the fermented cellulose will be roughly as good a feed supplement as yeast from any other source.  Then you can ferment manure to methane, then put the spent fermentation products (containing most of the minerals, nitrogen, etc.) back on the field.

Straw is generally a poor source of nitrogen in any event; its purpose is structural, not nutritional.

What bugs me is that the effort going into ethanol may come at the expense of much better ways of turning bio-wastes into energy and products.

I am dully impressed that their enzyme cocktail works on coniferous Douglas fir. Usually coniferous species are no good for paper/pulp production, let alone cellulosic ethanol fermentation. It opens huge amounts of wastes from construction materials production to be converted to premium liquid transportation fuel.

How are we going to limit feedstocks to genuine unused wastes. Who is going to determine what is unused wastes and useful wastes. To put this into a law, without to many loopholes, will not be easy. To enforce such law and associated regulations may be a nightmare.

Law makers and specially lawyers will have a field day.

"Who is going to determine what is unused wastes and useful wastes."

The standard answer is that markets are the best determiner of what is the best use of a product. If DDGS is better used as fertilizer than as a feedstock for ethanol, then farmers will be willing to pay more for it than ethanol producers will be willing to pay.

There are problems with this of course; mostly due to the subsidies that the ethanol industry gets that distort market demand, but in general it is probably better to let the market sort out best use rather than create laws to mandate specific uses for any given product.

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