UK to invest £400M to help develop rapid charging infrastructure points
Electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA closes £18M funding round

Gevo and Leaf Resources sign joint development agreement for potential use of cellulosic-derived sugars to convert to hydrocarbon molecules

Gevo, Inc. and Leaf Resources, an Australia-based company and one of the world’s leading companies in converting plant biomass into industrial sugars, have signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA). The JDA is to explore Gevo’s potential use of cellulosic-derived sugars and glycerol from Leaf and the ability to convert these to hydrocarbon molecules useful as fuels or chemicals.

Leaf Resources’ pretreatment technology—the Glycell Process—breaks down plant biomass at lower temperature and pressure to generate a higher yield of cellulose than conventional approaches. Glycell pretreatment is followed by enzymatic hydrolysis which converts cellulose into cellulosic sugars. The process also yields lignin, hemicellulose and refined glycerol.

Gevo has developed technology for producing isobutanol from renewable feedstocks using a yeast that has been developed to produce isobutanol and a product recovery technology that continuously removes isobutanol as it is formed. Gevo adds its proprietary yeast to fermentable sugars to convert the sugars to isobutanol.

The JDA is structured around three phases of joint work designed to establish a bankable project.

The initial phase will develop the feasibility of a potential facility, followed by phases investigating the commercial development and commercialization of the project.

Gevo and Leaf will carry their own costs during phase 1 of the project, with further funding to be determined by a future written agreement after completion of the phase 1 milestones.

Leaf’s progress in Malaysia and Queensland, in addition to the comprehensive work it has undertaken with regard to its Glycell process, creates the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship with Gevo. We have already been supplying renewable jet fuel to Virgin Australia and see the potential demand in Australia and more broadly in Asia. Having a partner like Leaf in the region will help drive our strategy forward with access to sugars as feedstock and chemical and fuel markets in a rapidly growing economic region.

—Dr. Patrick Gruber, Chief Executive Officer at Gevo



gevo has not been able to mass produce fuel or useful petrleum product sustitute after initial producing butanol from biomass.


they will


Isobutanol is close to a drop in substitute for gasoline so all they really need to do is produce isobutanol cheaper than gasoline.


Isobutanol's properties make it an attractive biofuel:

relatively high energy density, 98% of that of gasoline.
does not readily absorb water from air, preventing the corrosion of engines and pipelines.
can be mixed at any proportion with gasoline, meaning the fuel can "drop into" the existing petroleum infrastructure as a replacement fuel or major additive.
can be produced from plant matter not connected to food supplies, preventing a fuel-price/food-price relationship.


Given that the supply of biomass is grossly inadequate to replace gasoline, relying on drop-in substitutes means that petroleum producers will be in good shape for decades to come.  The failure to convert lignin and the unspecified fate of hemicellulose suggests that the net conversion efficiency is low and the amount of product from the available biomass will fall that much farther away from being an actual replacement for rock oil.


Farmers like selling biomass, they have lots of it.


They don't have enough to solve our problems with current methods.

Corn ethanol is already an inefficient biomass-to-fuel scheme that's more a farm-price support program than an energy-security or climate-response program, and it wouldn't be able to replace US consumption of motor gasoline even if it used the entire crop.  It dumps a large fraction of the captured carbon back into the atmosphere in processing, plus fossil carbon from the fuel used for process heat (mashing and distilling).  We can't keep using such methods if we expect to get anywhere.

The comments to this entry are closed.