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Mendel Biotechnology Acquires Miscanthus Breeding Program from Tinplant

30 March 2007

Mendel Biotechnology, a functional genomics company, has acquired the entire Miscanthus breeding program from Tinplant Biotechnik und Pflanzenvermehrung GmbH, a German breeding and plant science company.

Miscanthus is one of the leading candidates for dedicated energy crops for production of biofuels such as ethanol from lignocellulosic plant material. Mendel plans to be a leading developer of Miscanthus varieties for the cellulosic ethanol industry worldwide.

In addition to developing strains optimized for various regional conditions, a Miscanthus development program focused on biofuels could include, for example, modifying the cellulose and lignin composition of the stalk to reduce enzymatic pretreatment and increase the conversion to ethanol, or to increase yield. (As a sidenote, the adoption of hybrid genetics has tripled US corn yield—bushels per acre—since 1940.)

We are extremely pleased to have been able to bring Tinplant’s Miscanthus germplasm collection and developed varieties into our breeding program. We are equally excited about the establishment of a breeding collaboration with Tinplant, which has been the leader to date in Miscanthus variety development. This relationship will also give us a presence in Europe for further development and commercialization activities.

—Neal Gutterson, Mendel’s President and CEO

The detailed terms of the acquisition were not made available. However, the transaction includes a 5-year collaboration between Mendel and Tinplant for ongoing breeding work, and establishes Tinplant as a sales agent for Mendel’s Miscanthus varieties.

Founded in 1997, Mendel Biotechnology has identified and patented the use of genes that control many aspects of plant growth and development, and is using such inventions to develop or co-develop new plant varieties. Mendel is developing new seed products for the emerging bioenergy market, focused on seeds and feedstock products for the cellulosic ethanol industry.

Tinplant Biotechnik und Pflanzenvermehrung GmbH specializes on in-vitro propagation and repository tasks of a wide range of horticultural and medicinal plants as well as trees. Tinplant has, since its inception, conducted an intensive breeding program for Miscanthus which included an extensive collection of Miscanthus genotypes from other countries.

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March 30, 2007 in Biotech, Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Does anybody understand this !

Cellulosic bioethanol is a bad idea although 10 times better than corn ethanol. The simple truth is that as a solar energy conversion process, crops to fermented alcohol has less than .5% (in the case of corn ethanol .05% ) of the efficiency of solar panels. It is also immoral to use productive food crop agricultural land for the production of fuel, especially when you consider that the water required for plant growth is in short supply, a problem that equals the Energy/CO2 problem in the world. The real advantage of biomass, is that plants are the best way we know to fix carbon out of the atmosphere. And the fact is, for us to make liquid fuel substitutes for petroleum products, notably alcohols, we need carbon. Therefore, if you want to make those liquid fuels CO2 neutral you want to use either carbon removed from the atmosphere or waste CO2 from industrial process. So to use biomass efficiently you must transfer 100% of the plant carbon to liquid fuel carbon, not a small fraction of it, as in fermentation methods.

This indicates that the best way to produce fuel is by using waste CO2 or biomass carbon, and surplus or remote green energy. The Fischer Tropsch process can convert the biomass to Syngas, which can then be converted most cheaply to methanol (also ethanol but more expensive) with added energy. This method makes alcohol fuel which is CO2 neutral.

The added energy needed to convert CO2 or Biomass to alcohols could be obtained from remote coastal automated hydro or tidal power installations, with Plants that receive liquid waste CO2 by tanker, and return with alcohol in the same tanker. Also locations such as Iceland which has huge geothermal power resources. And transporting alcohol or CO2 by tanker is safe & environmentally low risk, unlike the dangerous transport of LNG or Petroleum. There is a big debate on the transport of Natural Gas from the huge reserves on the Canadian Mackenzie Delta, cheaper to ship by LNG than to build the >$20 billion pipeline, but LNG is extremely dangerous to ship, especially in iceberg infested waters. Simple solution: convert the natural gas to methanol and ship the environmentally friendly methanol by tanker. Exxon Valdez type event, no problem, the methanol will dissipate harmlessly into the environment.

Another example would be Wind Farms in areas like Western Alberta, which cannot deliver peak energy to the grid, so why not convert surplus wind energy plus biomass carbon to methanol or ethanol. See:

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/columnists/story.html?id=7235a029-e0cb-479d-aeb6-ef19c4fc32f5

A good analysis of the terrible energy efficiency of plant solar energy conversion is found at:

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog1/index.php?p=22&js_enabled=1

Warren:

Your analysis applies only for growing of dedicated energy crops. Huge amounts of waste forestry and agriculture biomass are for free. The limiting factor is only economy of collection.

Andrey, my analysis suggests that the "huge amounts" of agricultural & forestry waste are prime candidates for energy production. However, by far and away, the most effective use of biomass is as a means to produce CO2 neutral liquid fuels. The energy content of the biomass is much less significant, as there are much more superior ways to get energy, including GenIV nuclear reactors, in particular the thorium cycle & the IFR, nuclear fusion, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, wave, tidal etc. Many of these energy production methods would be particularly suitable to combine with biomass as a means of storing peak energy as well as producing carbon neutral liquid fuels.


Can you put me on your mailing list, I am and investor, Where is the Muscanthus now growing,

Leon

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