The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved Diversa Corporation’s Purifine enzyme for non-food applications, including its use in increasing the efficiency of oilseed processing for the production of biodiesel.
Traditionally, enzymes have not been used extensively in the vegetable oil refining process. Diversa’s approach reduces the need for harsh chemicals and provides a novel method for removing oil phospholipids (degumming the oil) while improving the quality and yield without requiring major changes to conventional processing conditions.
The pending FDA approval for edible oil applications of the Purifine lipase enzyme is required for a full commercial launch, as most vegetable oil processing plants producing biodiesel also produce edible oil. The Purifine enzyme is used shortly after crushing the oil seeds, before the oil is split into the two different streams. Diversa will manufacture the Purifine enzyme under its agreement with Fermic S.A. de C.V.
With this regulatory approval, we now look forward to dedicated biodiesel mills performing commercial scale trials to determine the extent to which Purifine enzyme can improve overall yield and reduce low-value byproducts. Our next step is to obtain US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for edible oil applications, which we hope to receive by the second quarter of 2007.—Edward Shonsey, Diversa CEO
San Diego-based Diversa Corporation has been developing high-performance specialty enzymes since 1994. Among its biofuel activities, Diversa has partnered with a consortium including DuPont, Deere & Co., the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Michigan State University to develop a biorefinery that can produce ethanol and other products from the entire corn plant, integrating traditional grain-based ethanol production with cellulosic ethanol production from stalks and husks. (Earlier post.) Diversa has already introduced a new alpha-amylase enzyme designed to improve the efficiency and economics of corn ethanol production. (Earlier post.)
“Safety evaluation of a lipase enzyme preparation, expressed in Pichia pastoris, intended for use in the degumming of edible vegetable oil”; Nelson Barton, Joel Kreps, Isabelle Coats and Diane Shanahan; Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Volume 45, Issue 1 , June 2006, Pages 1-8