Broin and Novozymes announced a new collaboration to take the next steps needed to bring cost-effective ethanol derived from corn stover (cellulosic ethanol) to market. The collaboration is an extension of earlier significant partnerships between the two companies.
In January 2001, supported by funds from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Novozymes and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) entered into a collaborative research subcontract totaling US$14.8 million over three years, with a one-year extension worth US$2.3 million granted in April 2004. That project dramatically cut the cost of enzymes required to convert cellulosic biomass from corn stover into sugars for the production of fuel ethanol and other valuable products.
Further improvements still need to be achieved in order to bring biomass into the commercial arena. Novozymes intends to do so by using its comprehensive range of proprietary biotech tools to identify new enzymes, engineer and boost catalytic activity and further increase production yield. Options for integration of lignocellulose conversion into existing processes will also provide opportunities for process improvement leading to additional cost reduction.
Other Broin-Novozymes efforts included:
In 2004, Broin and Novozymes partnered in the development of a new enzyme for Broin’s BPX technology, a patent-pending raw starch hydrolysis process that converts starch to sugar, which then ferments to ethanol without heat. The innovative technology was taken to commercial-scale production after four years of research and development and eliminates the cooking process that has been part of ethanol production for hundreds of years.
The results include higher ethanol yields, increased nutrient quality and flowability in distillers dry grain soluble (DDGS), reduction in plant emissions and reduced energy costs by up to 15 percent. During the development phase, Broin obtained from Novozymes a sample of acid fungal amylase enzyme that ultimately became specific to the BPX process.
In 2003, Broin and the US Department of Energy jointly funded a five-year research initiative to develop and improve dry mill fractionation with the assistance of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and South Dakota State University. The project provided for the commercialization of Broin’s fractionation technology, or BFrac, which together with BPX, creates a foundation for biorefining in the future. BFrac creates additional value-added products and streams—including fiber that can be used in the production of cellulosic ethanol.
The collaboration between Broin and Novozymes to commercialize ethanol from corn stover is a continuation of a tremendous partnership. I am extremely optimistic about the future of biofuels and our ability to continue developing the technology to make cellulose to ethanol conversion a reality in the next 4-6 years.—Jeff Broin, CEO of Broin
Broin is a specialized and integrated technology development, production, and marketing company with more than 20 years in the biorefining industry. The company has a history of advanced ethanol and biorefining process development. As the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the United States, Broin currently manages 18 plants in five states with four more projects under construction.