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Butalco To Begin Cellulosic Ethanol Production in Summer 2010 in Germany

Butalco will use its proprietary new yeast technology to produce cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste in a pilot plant in Southern Germany starting this summer. Butalco’s new microbial catalysts will enable up to 30% increased yields in cellulosic ethanol production, according to the company.

Butalco’s core technology is based on genetically optimized yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) which, unlike established yeasts, are able to ferment C5 sugars (xylose and arabinose) found in lignocellulosic biomass as well as C6 sugar (glucose). (Earlier post.)

Our new technology now tells the yeast cells to also ferment the C5 waste sugars into ethanol which makes the production of cellulosic ethanol much more efficient and cheaper. Together with the new commercially viable enzymes launched last week by the enzyme companies Danisco [earlier post] and Novozymes [earlier post], Butalco’s yeast technology will enable cellulosic ethanol as a competitive alternative to gasoline.

—Prof. Dr. Eckhard Boles, co-founder

Butalco will use Hohenheim University’s (Stuttgart, Germany) newly built pilot plant for the production of its first amounts of cellulosic ethanol. Last year, Butalco signed a research and development contract with the Institute of Fermentation Technology within the Department of Food Science and Biotechnology at Hohenheim University, which has been investigating the production of bioethanol for almost 30 years.

Hohenheim University is closely cooperating with the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Frankfurt University (headed by Dr. Boles), which has been successfully working together with Butalco on a number of projects for the past 2 years. The pilot plant allows both starch and lignocellulosic-based raw materials to be processed.

Butalco is also working together with partners to develop an integrated lignocellulose-based bioethanol/biobutanol production process. The development covers the whole process chain including all production steps from lignocellulose hydrolysis to downstream processing.

At the 27th International Specialized Symposium on Yeasts in Paris in August 2009, Boles presented yeasts that Butalco scientists successfully modified to produce biobutanol instead of bioethanol.



If they can produce cellulosic ethanol that is significantly cheaper than regular gas in Europe, it will be great for that continent - which is held hostage by astronomical taxes on petroleum fuel...basically like a giant across the board tax cut for everyone as prices for everything that is produced with petrol or transported with petrol come down.


I could see cellulose processing as a "front end" to existing fermentation plants. Plants in the U.S. are dependent on corn grain and the price is affected by bidders that neither grow corn nor use corn.

On the point of taxes, this is one way to spur an economy that depends on transportation fuel. Do not tax these fuels as heavily and they may be adopted more quickly. If the transportation costs are lower, it makes everything transported more affordable.

Thomas Lankester

'great for that continent - which is held hostage by astronomical taxes on petroleum fuel'

On the contrary, the high tax policy has lead to greater investment in, and use of, vehicles with higher mpg. This means that:
1) the EU less reliant on oil imports
2) is not held hostage to price volatility as doubling the price of a barrel of oil makes only marginal difference (20-30%) to pump prices.

We also retain that money in our economies instead of passing all the value of price hikes to some undesirable regimes.

The choice is: be 'held hostage' by one's own government or be 'held hostage' by another country / market speculators. Europe made its choice after
the '70s oil crisis and stayed the course despite the temptation of political expediency.

The fuel taxes also redress, to some degree, the failure of the market to include externalities such as local pollution health cost, spillage environmental costs and emission environmental costs (aerosols/black carbon/CO2, global dimming, global warming effects).


Presumably your own government is democratic and if you do not like them you vote in someone else, not so with OPEC nor Saudi Arabia. This is one of the flaws in U.S. politics, any candidate that recommends higher gasoline taxes would never get elected.

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