DEINOVE, a technology company that designs, develops and markets a new generation of industrial processes based on optimized Deinococci bacteria, has produced ethanol at a titer of 9% via its fermentation of biomass sugars in 20L pre-industrial fermentors. In September 2012, the company had reported that its optimized strain of Deinococcus generated ethanol from wheat-based biomass with a titer of 3%. (Earlier post.)
The 9% content v/v (volume/volume)—equal to 7.2% wt/v (weight/volume)—exceeds the 5% alcohol content wt/v considered to be the threshold for industrial exploitation of a process for 2nd generation biofuels, the company said. The obtained performance is gradually approaching the maximum theoretical yield, the company added. The use of Deinoccoccus offers several benefits:
A high resistance to numerous kind of stress: ionizing radiation, desiccation, solvents, ethanol, butanol, styrene, alkaline and acids and high temperatures.
In a process using “classic” microorganisms, the heat generated by the fermentation kills off the microorganisms. This makes it necessary to control the reactor temperature resulting in considerable energy cost and waste of time. The thermophilic Deinococcus makes this unnecessary as it works at high temperatures of 48 °C.
Novel enzymatic and metabolic properties: not only the ability to manufacture rare compounds (carotenoids, enzymes, antibiotics, antifungals...) from biomass that other organisms do not use (such as certain complex sugars), but the ability to co-digest several sugars.
Deinococcus is capable of simultaneously fermenting different types of simple sugars, such as C5 and C6, derived from the hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicellulose, and even other organic compounds such as glycerol and acetic acid, thus increasing the final yield of the process.
The ability to integrate in its genome, in a highly stable manner, large fragments of DNA from bacteria, fungi and even plants, thus enhancing its capabilities.
The process employs an “all-in-one” Consolidated BioProcessing process (CBP) to jointly ensure hydrolysis and fermentation.
Although the global biofuels industry has resolutely pursued producing biofuels from non-food biomass, so far, no process has been able to harness lignocellulosic biomass in an economically competitive way.
To our knowledge no other bacterial fermentation process has demonstrated such capabilities to date; high titer but also significant yield and productivity, key factors relevant for industrial performance. This innovative process has become a reality and could bring a commercially profitable and environmentally sustainable solution to move on to a post-petroleum era.—Jacqueline Lecourtier, former Scientific Director of the French Petroleum Institute (IFP, today IFPEN), and chair of DEINOVE’s Scientific Council
DEINOVE cited its latest production achievement as demonstrating that its bacterial process is suitable for converting this type of biomass to biofuel and should offer industrial production costs in line with market expectations.
With an alcohol titer at 9%, we are well above the objectives we set at the launch of the DEINOL program. We are delighted to have obtained results that could impose a new production standard in a world market as important as that of 2nd generation biofuels. Manufacturers around the world have strong interest in our solution and in the light of discussions with several of them, we believe we will shortly be able to announce partnerships in several areas of bio-based chemistry.—Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of DEINOVE
In the work reported in 2012, DEINOVE’s optimized Deinococcus bacteria transformed 80% of a non-food biomass into simple sugars, and then converted those sugars into ethanol in laboratory fermentors (from 1 to 5 L) with a 3% titer. DEINOVE improved and automated its engineering technology to develop the strain producing ethanol at the 9% titer from glucose as the substrate.
These results were obtained in a purely mineral and basic culture medium, a mode of production adapted to the industrial world, and in record time.
DEINOVE has started a new test campaign in 300-liter bioreactors provided by SANOFI in Toulouse to confirm the obtained results in quasi-industrial conditions. The trial results are expected in the first half of 2014.
Subsequently, tests on the scale of several m3 are planned for the end of 2014, with content, productivity and performance higher than those initially planned.
DEINOVE was founded by Philippe Pouletty MD, General Partner of Truffle Capital, and Professor Miroslav Radman, of the Faculty of Medicine of the University René Descartes.