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Qteros Achieves Breakthrough in Performance of Q Microbe Process for Cellulosic Ethanol

Biofuel company Qteros, which is commercializing consolidated bio-processing technology, has shown that its Q Microbe process yields ethanol outputs of 70 grams per liter (9% by volume) in a single-step process on an industrially pre-treated biomass feedstock. A yield of 50 grams per liter is considered to be the threshold for commercial production of cellulosic ethanol.

Qteros said that these results, coupled with the previously observed bioconversion yields of greater than 90%, make the Qteros method of producing cellulosic ethanol more economical than any other process to date.

Dr. Sue Leschine, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst microbiologist who first discovered the Q Microbe near the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts (earlier post), announced the results at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Montreal, sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

In the last year alone, the Qteros scale-up team led by Dr. Sarad Parekh has increased ethanol titers by a factor of five. We are now closer than ever to bringing clean, renewable cellulosic fuel to market at a price competitive with gasoline.

—Qteros president and CEO Dr. William Frey

Qteros achieved these ethanol outputs with a non-genetically engineered strain of the Q Microbe. The company expects to capture further improvements by taking advantage of on-going efforts in molecular genetics and strain development.

In May, Qteros announced that Valero Energy Corp. had become a significant investor through Valero’s acquisition of certain assets of Verasun Energy. (Earlier post.)

Comments

Henry Gibson

As is not widely known there is not enough biomass production land available in the US even and certainly not enough in many other countries for energy needs for a modern society.

We conveniently forget that ethanol is a food as well and can even be converted into other foods, so that even producing biomass ethanol does not eliminate the fuel-foods debate. There are many people in the world that would benefit from from the calories in a few cups full of diluted ethanol daily.

Biomass is used, even now, to produce the food value of mushrooms. I do not know all of the organic materials that the organisms that produce Quorn can digest.

Right now, hydrogen can be produced from electricity to make fuel cheaper than fuel from $150 gasoline, and it can be produced far cheaper from coal. Food can be, is and has been made from oil and natural gas, so even using oil does not eliminate the food fuel debate. Oil has reduced the need to feed animals to produce and transport foods and increased the productivity of the growing and preserving of foods.

Many animals can eat some of the very same biomass materials proposed for cellulostic ethanol and produce meat and milk food. Selective breeding might even produce an animal resistant to Jatropha poisons or the poisons can be industrially modified. Native americans removed the tannic acid from acorns to eat them. ..HG..

HealthyBreeze

@ Henry,

You concepts for Hydrogen are either not renewable, or have negative ROIE. Hydrogen is also particularly difficult to transport/store, and tends to leak away.

This is CELLULOSIC ethanol...y'know, from the cellulose people can not digest because we don't have 4 stomachs. It's not people food, and if it comes from switchgrass, elaphant grass, wheat straw, corn stalks, tumble weeds, or whatever, it might replace a meaningful percentage (10%?) of US gasoline consumption. Cellulosic butanol would be more convenient, but that is further from commercializability.

SJC

I would like to see these methods used as "front ends" for existing ethanol plants. They got burned on all the speculation in corn futures by the hedge funds which tripled the price. Now they can use corn stalks and not corn to make the ethanol. Farmers will have a whole new revenue stream which might even reduce farm subsidies.

Treehugger

SJC

Corn stalk need to stay in the field to avoid erostion retain moisture and recycle mineral. What is the benefit for the farmer to sell its corn stalk if he has to buy more fertilizer to compensate for the loss of nutrient in the process ?

SJC

Look at the studies, they say you can use 1/3 to 1/2 of the stalks available on the field with NO adverse effects. I would post the links, but you would continue to believe that it is not possible, so why bother.

sulleny

This is a good step forward. Congrats to UMass and the Prof. Keep in mind that as Breeze points out, cellulosic ethanol at its peak will only represent 10-20 percent liquid fuel demand. This may increase as electrification with range extenders augment battery costs. The rest of liquid fuel demands will come from algae ethanol/butanol/diesel and remnants of petroleum.

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