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Novozymes and Nedalco Partner to Develop Different Strains of Yeast to Ferment C5 Sugars from Biomass for Cellulosic Ethanol

Nedalco has applied for a patent to protect the technique described schematically in the figure above. The distinction from the more established method is that Xylitol is not an intermediary compound in the route from xylose to xylulose when using Nedalco’s technology. Source: Nedalco. Click to enlarge.

Enzyme provider Novozymes and Royal Nedalco, a leading yeast developer and ethanol producer, will collaborate to develop different strains of yeast that can efficiently ferment C5 sugars derived from biomass.

In one pathway to the production of cellulosic biofuel, enzymes first convert cellulose and hemicellulose in agricultural waste to sugars which are then fermented into ethanol. To obtain optimal yields it is essential to ferment not only the easily fermentable C6 sugars (glucose), but also the more difficult C5 sugars (xylose and arabinose).

However, while the common yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the dominant organism for fermenting sugars into ethanol, the conventional yeast is only capable of fermenting C6 sugars.

Under the terms of a Joint Development Agreement, Royal Nedalco will develop different strains of C5 yeast which will then be tested by the partners. After final development, Royal Nedalco will market the most efficient yeast strain to producers of cellulosic biofuel.

Nedalco has successfully addressed the challenges of C5 sugar fermentation. This partnership will aim to widen and speed up the commercial availability of C5 fermentation technology to cellulosic biofuel producers all over the world.

—Ger Bemer, CEO of Royal Nedalco

Novozymes is first and foremost an enzyme provider, but we wish to be a valuable partner for the biofuel industry. By contributing our fermentation insight to this partnership we help producers of cellulosic biofuel increase their yields. This will benefit the entire industry and eventually also Novozymes.

—Claus Fuglsang, Senior Director for Bioenergy R&D at Novozymes

Koninklijke Nedalco B.V. “Royal Nedalco” is a subsidiary company of the Dutch agro-industrial group Royal Cosun and is a leading producer of ethanol of agricultural origin in Europe. Royal Nedalco develops proprietary C5 Yeast Technology that allows for production of ethanol from various non-food feedstock.


  • Kuyper, M, Toirkens, M.J., Diderich, J.A., Winkler, A.A., Van Dijken, J.P. and Pronk, J.T. (2005) Evolutionary engineering of mixed-sugar utilization by a xylose-fermenting S. cerevisiae strain. FEMS Yeast Research 5, 399-409 doi: 10.1016/j.femsyr.2005.04.004


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