Mascoma Announces SunOpta Exec Joins as CTO; Details on Cellulosic Ethanol Partnership with Dartmouth
Dr. Richard spent more than 10 years with the SunOpta BioProcess Group, driving the deployment of its cellulosic ethanol technology in North America, Europe and China. He also led development of the company’s biomass processing technologies for the preparation, pre-treatment, enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation of cellulosic biomass for conversion to ethanol.
Mascoma also announced details of the company’s partnership with Dartmouth to dramatically advance Mascoma’s efforts in the production of cellulosic ethanol. The partnership with Dartmouth includes:
An exclusive worldwide license agreement that allows Mascoma to research and produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass based on several patents from Dartmouth.
Mascoma’s sponsorship of research at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering to continue the development and use of organisms for cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol. In turn, Dartmouth is supporting Mascoma’s commercialization of the cellulosic ethanol technology, and has taken an undisclosed equity position.
Establishment of Mascoma’s R&D lab in the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in mid-September, headed by Vice President of R↦D Dr. David Hogsett. Dr. Hogsett is also Assistant Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth and was previously President of Advanced Bioconversion Technologies, Inc. and Executive Vice President of Bioenergy Inc.
The applicable cellulosic ethanol technology is based on work conducted and directed by Dartmouth Engineering Professor Lee Lynd, a co-founder of Mascoma. Dr. Lynd is the head of a large research group working on cellulosic ethanol at Dartmouth’s engineering school.
Mascoma and Dartmouth share a vision that bioengineering of advanced biocatalysts will significantly reduce the cost of ethanol and expand the use of ethanol production from a wide range of cellulosic material. Establishing Mascoma’s new labs near Dartmouth fosters significant collaboration, and strongly supports our joint efforts to develop and commercialize this very promising technology.—Alla Kan, Director of the Technology Transfer Office at Dartmouth
Lynd’s applied biology research at Dartmouth focuses on two related themes: organism development for consolidated bioprocessing and the fundamentals of microbial cellulose utilization.
Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) involves consolidating into a single process step four biologically-mediated events: cellulase production, cellulose hydrolysis, hexose fermentation, and pentose fermentation.
Implementing this strategy requires development of microorganisms that both utilize cellulose and other biomass components while also producing a product of interest at sufficiently high yield and concentrations. Development of such organisms is a potential breakthrough that would result in very large cost reductions as compared to the more conventional approach of producing saccharolytic enzymes in a dedicated process step.
Because the CBP approach relies on microbial cellulose hydrolysis rather than enzymatic processing, fully developing it requires a fundamental understanding of the microbes’ use of cellulose. At Dartmouth, Lynd and his researchers are studying Clostridium thermocellum, a thermophilic bacterium that has among the highest rates of cellulose utilization reported, as well as the xylose-utilizing thermophiles Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum and Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum.
Lynd Labs research