Broin and Novozymes to Collaborate on Development of Ethanol from Stover
26 October 2006
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.
I'm not sure if these guys could ever catch up with Iogen. They're still in the research phase while Iogen already has a pilot project under their belt and is working on plans for a commercial scale plant.
Posted by: Neil | 26 October 2006 at 01:13 PM
Just gasify the stover and use catalysts or organisms to turn the syngas to ethanol. It is quicker and more efficient.
Posted by: SJC | 27 October 2006 at 04:11 AM
They definitely “should”. But do not forget that you are talking about countries with medieval state of social structure and associated economical infrastructure. Iran, for example, imports 70% of its gasoline and have 30% unemployment rate. Saudi Arabia has one tenth of US GDP per person, notwithstanding their stable political regime and huge oil revenues.
Posted by: Andrey | 28 October 2006 at 04:58 AM
Posted by: allen_Z | 28 October 2006 at 09:07 AM
Try sweet sorghum biomass based biofuels. Climate permitting, you can get 3 crop per year, yielding up to (and perhaps beyond) 3,600 ga/acre ethanol a year. Mobile juicers would be needed, as would bulk biomass transportation for leftover stalks and leaves to conversion plants.
Posted by: allen_Z | 28 October 2006 at 09:17 AM
I like the sorghum idea. After you get done processing you can gasify the lignin and make even more. The portable processors are good, because you want to process near the sources of biomass and use the resources as continuously as possible.
Posted by: SJC | 28 October 2006 at 11:06 AM
Given the amount of time needed to ferment, the bulk of the equipment, and the fact that every farmer in an area's crop is going to be harvested at about the same time, I don't see Mobile processing as meeting the needs of the total market system. It almost makes more sense to process it like fruit juice. Huge bulk concentrate (or compressed bales of dry storage like hay) and keep the fermentation center running at a constant optimal efficiency rate.
Posted by: CDH | 01 November 2006 at 10:01 AM
Mobile juicer, to cut down on transport needs. Sweet sorghum makes up to 20 tons of biomass an acre. Like the concentrator idea, since moving syrup to the system is less bulky vs moving sweet sap.
_Perhaps instead of fermentation, gasify. That way, you can get 1,000-2,000 ga/acre ethanol (or other organic fuels) per crop. Climate permitting (and perhaps using week/month old seedlng transplantation), the 4 month crop maturation can make for 2-3 crops per year.
Posted by: allen_Z | 01 November 2006 at 01:56 PM
2000 gallons per acre is possible. The idea is not to haul the biomass any farther than you have to. If you can stockpile a lot of it at a fixed location within perhaps a 50 mile radius of where the crop is grown, that could work.
Posted by: SJC | 01 November 2006 at 04:17 PM