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DSM and DONG Inbicon show cellulosic bio-ethanol fermentation on industrial scale with 40% higher yield

Royal DSM, together with DONG Energy (Denmark), has demonstrated the combined fermentation of C6 and C5 sugars from wheat straw on an industrial scale. The combined fermentation results in a 40% increase in ethanol yield per ton of straw, which can result in significant cost cuts in the production of bio-ethanol from cellulosic feedstock.

The demonstration took place in DONG Energy’s Inbicon demonstration plant in Kalundborg (Denmark), the longest running demonstration facility for cellulosic bio-ethanol production in the world. (Earlier post.) The facility was reconstructed in 2013 in order to be able to conduct mixed fermentation of C6 and C5 sugars. In a two-month fermentation test mixed C6 and C5 fermentation using DSM’s advanced yeast was found to yield 40% more ethanol per ton of straw than traditional C6 fermentation.

In this test the mixed fermentation of C6 and C5 sugars has been proven on a 270,000 liter industrial scale with a similar yield as obtained on a 1 liter laboratory scale. This is an impressive scale-up and it improves the possibilities of deployment of the Inbicon technology in combination with advanced yeast from DSM.

—Jan Larsen, head of R&D Inbicon

In this demonstration, DSM has successfully established a supply chain framework for C5/C6 dry yeast and shown its ability to produce and transport this advanced yeast for use on an industrial scale.

With the supply of yeast product to Inbicon, DSM has demonstrated that it has established the required supply chain framework. Inbicon and DSM have collaborated to make cellulosic bio-ethanol production through fermentation of C5 sugars a reality. The successful supply and application of DSM’s cellulosic yeast product is a milestone in the commercial roll-out of DSM’s cellulosic fermentation technology.

—Christian Koolloos, Business Manager Bio-ethanol at DSM

The joint work by DONG Energy and DSM is co-funded by the KACELLE project. In November 2009, DONG Energy and DSM together with four other partners (Statoil, University of Minho, University of Copenhagen, DBFZ) signed the Kalundborg Cellulosic Ethanol Project (KACELLE), devoted to demonstrating and further optimizing the Kalundborg cellulosic bio-ethanol plant, under the EU 7th Framework Programme.

The aim of the 4-year KACELLE project—which received €9.1 million in EU funding—was to bring the patented Inbicon Core Technology from a pre-commercial level to a near-commercial level, making the technology available in the market and attractive to investors. The project will demonstrate 4 t/hr continuous operation at industrial scale and further develop selected process steps resulting in significant cost cuts in ethanol production. The aim is to:

  • Reduce the energy consumption;
  • Improve the water balance;
  • Add a fermentation step for C5 sugars;
  • Reduce the enzyme consumption; and
  • Increase the plant capacity.



This may be good news for lower cost biofuels from non-food feed stocks?


Yes maybe, along with the recent results published on Miscanthus that produces 10 tons/Acre of dry biomass even on marginal land an without much fertilizer. Miscanthus could in fact be a way to restore land has it protect the soil with its rhizome and reload it with carbon and organic material. Apparently brown algae could also be a good source of biomass


Water hyacinth produces 20 tons per acre in artificial ponds on land that will grow NO crops. It grows so fast and produces so much biomass that in some cases they can not harvest it fast enough.

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