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.