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Novozymes introduces new yeast platform and product for starch-based ethanol; faster, tougher for increased output

Novozymes has unveiled its new yeast platform for starch-based ethanol, while also introducing the first product, Innova Drive. A completely new yeast strain, the product can reduce fermentation time by up to two hours compared to current yeasts.

The new yeast is also tougher, continuing to ferment in adverse conditions such as higher organic acids and temperatures. This stress resistance leads to more consistent fermentations, increases ethanol output and reduces operational costs.

  • Innova Drive allows ethanol producers to operate their plants at higher temperatures year-round, to achieve higher production levels. Using a yeast bred to power through heat excursions up to 98 °F/~37 °C, operators can diminish plant downtime, increase efficiency and output in any season, and potentially decrease cooling costs.

  • Innova Drive is tolerant to high organic acids, and fermentations will finish even when acid levels rise as high as 0.6%. This significantly reduces the risk of process upsets and ethanol loss due to lost fermenters—enabling operators to power through infection events.

  • Innova Drive excels with high dry solids—up to 37%—with proven resistance to high ethanol levels and during periods of temperature stress.

Novozymes Yeast Infographic_Tecnical_V4
Source: Novozymes. Click to enlarge.

Yeast is a major bottleneck that requires constant care and attention. Innova Drive is a response to the needs of the ethanol industry, and resets expectations for how tough a yeast can be.

—Brian Brazeau, Novozymes’ Vice President for Biofuels Commercial

Novozymes said that recent surveys show that more than half of all ethanol plants face operational upsets, many related to yeast. High heat, infections, organic acids, and throughput limitations are stressors that plague current yeasts, requiring plant personnel to increase antibiotics, reduce inputs such as corn solids, and add more yeast—all contributing to process complexity. This leads to a double-impact of increased costs and lost revenue.

Novozymes has used its expertise in enzymes to develop a yeast that delivers higher ethanol yields and reliable performance. The result sets a new standard for fermentation performance.

During fermentation, Innova Drive produces a novel, higher-performing glucoamylase enzyme. The enzyme is twice as effective as glucoamylases produced by other yeast products in converting sugar into ethanol. When ethanol producers pair a specially designed, complementary Novozymes fermentation enzyme with Drive, the combined performance allows producers to maximize ethanol conversion and starch conversion efficiency.

We are leveraging the synergies of our best-in-class enzymes and new yeast. The enzymes expressed by the yeast, in combination with carefully tailored companion enzyme products, give you a cocktail of enzyme activities that will feed the yeast in an optimal manner throughout fermentation. For an ethanol producer, this means increased efficiency in starch conversion, greater starch conversion, lower residual starch—and, at the end of the day, more ethanol.

—Brian Brazeau

Yeast strains used in the starch-based ethanol industry have remained largely unchanged for decades. The Innova platform uses a new yeast strain not seen before in the ethanol industry and brings novel characteristics. Novozymes can further build upon and tailor these characteristics to meet the specific needs of an ethanol producer.

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