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Novozymes introduces its latest enzyme technology for cellulosic biofuels; performs 1.5x better than predecessor

Relative enzyme dose reduction with succeeding generations of Cellic product. Source: Novozymes. Click to enlarge.

Novozymes has introduced its next-generation of enzyme technology for cellulosic biofuels, Cellic CTec3, an advanced cellulase and hemicellulase complex. The enzyme enables more cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol and performs 1.5 times better than its predecessor, Cellic CTec2. (Earlier post.)

Using Cellic CTec3, biofuel producers need only one-fifth of the enzyme dose compared to competing enzymes. Cellic CTec3 allows the cost of producing ethanol from biomass to approach the level of corn ethanol and gasoline, according to the company.

Cellic CTec3 contains proficient cellulase components boosted by proprietary enzyme activities, including advanced GH61 compounds, improved ß-glucosidases as well as a new array of hemicellulase activities, which together deliver the improved conversion efficiency.

The first plants start commercial production of advanced biofuels this year. With our new product, Cellic CTec3, and the first plants starting commercial production, this is a huge step forward in the transition from an oil-based economy to a bio-based economy. We will continue to develop more efficient enzymes to further reduce the total cost of producing advanced biofuels.

—Novozymes’ CEO Steen Riisgaard

Among the first-movers are M&G and Fiberight. Both companies will use Cellic CTec3 in their operations and are set to begin production this year. M&G Group is scheduled to open a facility in Crescentino, Italy, producing 13 million gallons of ethanol per year from wheat straw, energy crops, and other locally available feedstocks. Fiberight will open a small-scale plant in Lawrenceville, Virginia, this year, and a plant producing 6 million gallons per year in Blairstown, Iowa, in 2013. Both plants will convert municipal solid waste into biofuel.

Advanced biofuels can be produced from cellulose in biomass such as wheat straw, corn stalks, household waste, or energy crops such as switchgrass. The biomass is first broken down into a pulp. Enzymes are then added, turning the pulp into sugar that can be fermented into fuels, feed, and chemicals.

It takes 50 kg of Cellic CTec3 to make 1 ton of ethanol from biomass. By comparison, it requires at least 250 kg of a competing enzyme product to make the same amount of ethanol, according to Novozymes.

Global production capacity of ethanol from cellulose is estimated to reach about 15 million gallons in 2012 and 250 million gallons in 2014, according to the company. A recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that by using less than 20% of its available agricultural residues, the US could produce more than 18 billion gallons of ethanol every year, replacing 16% of its gasoline consumption by 2030, and reducing CO2 emissions from gasoline-based transportation by 11%. The numbers would be even higher if biomass from forestry residues, household waste, and energy crops were included.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, a legislative mandate on the use of renewable fuels in the US, targets production of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2022.



This is good news for future cellulosic liquid fuel and chemical production. In the not too distant future, most domestic-commercial-industrial wastes/garbage and unused biomass will be locally transformed into affordable liquid fuels and essential chemicals to reduce crude oil imports.


How much does 50 kg of Cellic CTec3 cost?

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