Novozymes in Two New Research Partnerships in Brazil; Biogas from Bagasse and Polypropylene from Sugarcane
Novozymes, an international enzymes and microorganisms company, has entered two new research partnerships in Brazil. A partnership with Cetrel, the largest provider of environmental solutions for the manufacturing industry in Latin America, is focused on the production of biogas from sugarcane bagasse using enzymes. The biogas can be used to produce electricity for sugarcane ethanol production facilities, and surplus electricity can be sold to the market through the electric grid.
The second partnership, with Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in Latin America, is focused on developing large-scale production of polypropylene from sugarcane.
Our agreement with Cetrel is perfectly aligned with our vision to develop a bio-based society, where biorefineries convert agricultural residues and waste into energy, chemicals, and other materials, thereby substituting fossil fuels. The project also offers strong technical and commercial synergy with our efforts on advanced biofuels.—Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President, Novozymes
Sugarcane bagasse is a potentially abundant source of energy for Brazil. According to estimates, bagasse could meet 20% of Brazil’s energy consumption by 2020. Today, bagasse is often discarded or burned in power plants, but more energy and value could be derived by converting it into advanced biofuel and biogas.
The Novozymes-Cetrel partnership is still in an early development stage but if successful, the technology might be commercially viable a few years from now, Novozymes said.
Braskem was the first company in the world to produce a 100% certified green polypropylene on an experimental basis, according to Bernardo Gradin, CEO of Braskem.
Polypropylene is the second most widely used thermoplastic with a global consumption in 2008 of 44 million metric tons. The market is estimated to be US$66 billion, with an annual growth rate of 4%.
Today, polypropylene is primarily derived from oil, but Braskem and Novozymes will develop a green alternative based on Novozymes’ core fermentation technology and Braskem’s expertise in chemical technology and thermoplastics. Initial development will run for at least five years.
We live in a world where oil is limited and expensive, and the chemical industry is looking for alternatives to its petroleum-based products. Novozymes’ partnership with Braskem is a move toward a green, bio-based economy, in which sugar will be the new oil.—Steen Riisgaard, CEO of Novozymes
Both companies have ongoing interests in a bio-based economy: Braskem is currently building a 200,000-tons-per-year green polyethylene plant in Brazil with ethanol from sugarcane as the raw material. Novozymes is producing enzymes to turn agricultural waste into advanced biofuels and has partnered to convert renewable raw materials into acrylic acid.