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... Read more →


POET Planning for 3.5B Gallons of Cellulosic Ethanol in 2022

Ethanol producer POET plans to be responsible for the production of 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year by 2022. That volume would represent more than 20% of the cellulosic ethanol mandated in the US Renewable Fuel Standard. POET CEO Jeff Broin outlined his company’s plans at the National... Read more →


Ionic Liquids for Conversion of Biomass to Sugars or HMF Without Additional Catalysts

Researchers at Colorado State University have shown that under relatively mild conditions (≤140 °C, 1 atm) and in the absence of added acid catalysts typically employed in biomass conversion, cellulose dissolved in certain ionic liquids (ILs) can convert into water-soluble reducing sugars in high total reducing sugar yield (up to... Read more →


Engineered Yeast Produces Ethanol and Butanol from C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass Feedstocks

Researchers from Frankfurt University have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment pentose (C5) as well as hexose (C6) sugars derived from biomass feedstock to produce bioethanol and biobutanol. A talk on the work—“Genetic engineering of industrial yeast strains for the production of bioethanol and biobutanol from C5... Read more →


CSI Says New Pretreatment Technology for Cellulosic Biomass Could Reduce Enzyme Dosage By Up To a Factor of 10

Researchers at Cellulose Sciences International (CSI) have developed a pretreatment technology of cellulosic biomass to reduce its recalcitrance (resistance to breakdown into sugars), enabling possible significant increases in rates of conversion of celluloses to sugar by cellulase enzymes, with an accompanying decrease in the required dosage of the enzymes. This,... Read more →


University of Wisconsin Team Develops High-Yielding Chemical Hydrolysis Process to Release Sugars from Biomass for Cellulosic Fuels and Chemicals

A University of Wisconsin-Madison research team has developed a chemical process for the hydrolysis of biomass into sugars for subsequent processing into fuels and chemicals that delivers sugar yields approaching those of enzymatic hydrolysis. In an open-access paper published in the 9 March issue of the Proceedings of the National... Read more →


TU Delft Researchers Demonstrate Bioabatement of Toxic Fermentation Inhibitors in Biomass Hydrolysates Using Engineered Bacterium; Potential to Enhance Cost-Effectiveness of Cellulosic Fuels and Chemicals

Researchers from TU Delft have demonstrated the ability of a newly-engineered bacterium to support the in situ breakdown of toxic fermentation inhibitors in lignocellulosic hydrolysates produced when sugars are released from biomass for subsequent fermentation. Fermentable sugars can be released from lignocellulosic biomass by a range of pretreatment and hydrolysis... Read more →


Inbicon biomass refinery. Click to enlarge. Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES), one of Japan’s leading heavy industries, and Inbicon, a Danish cellulosic ethanol technology, signed a license agreement for the Inbicon Biomass Refinery technology. The agreement grants Mitsui the right to build a number of biomass refineries in Southeast Asia... Read more →


Butalco To Begin Cellulosic Ethanol Production in Summer 2010 in Germany

Butalco will use its proprietary new yeast technology to produce cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste in a pilot plant in Southern Germany starting this summer. Butalco’s new microbial catalysts will enable up to 30% increased yields in cellulosic ethanol production, according to the company. Butalco’s core technology is based on... Read more →


Tobacco Plant-derived Enzyme Cocktail for Efficient and Low-Cost Hydrolysis of Biomass for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

One of the barriers to cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol is inadequate technology to efficiently and economically release fermentable sugars from cellulosic biomass. Companies such as Novozymes have worked for years to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of their enzymes for this type of application. (Earlier post.) Now,... Read more →


The energy storage density of liquid fuels far exceeds that of batteries and hydrogen. Source: GM. Click to enlarge. In a keynote presentation at the Renewable Fuel Association’s 15th Annual National Ethanol Conference, GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens reaffirmed the company’s commitment to biofuels, asserting GM continue to believes that... Read more →


The decrease in enzyme cost brings the low end of cellulosic ethanol production cost below the high end of corn ethanol production cost. Source: Novozymes. Click to enlarge. Novozymes has launched what it called the first commercially viable enzymes for production of biofuel from agricultural waste. The new Cellic CTec2... Read more →


Shell and Cosan Intend to Form $12B JV in Brazil To Be One of the World’s Largest Ethanol Producers; Shell Would Contribute Interests in Iogen and Codexis

Shell International Petroleum Company Limited and Cosan S.A. have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU), with the intention to form a circa $12 billion joint venture (JV) in Brazil for the production of ethanol, sugar and power, and the supply, distribution and retail of transportation fuels. Cosan is the... Read more →


Dupont Danisco Opens Cellulosic Ethanol Demonstration Facility

Leaders from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE), University of Tennessee and Genera Energy cut the ribbon on a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility in Vonore, Tenn. The 74,000-square-foot plant has started producing ethanol and will deliver low-cost, fully-integrated technology for commercial production of ethanol from agricultural residue and bioenergy crops, including... Read more →


Rice University Study and Policy Paper Find US Biofuels Policies Flawed, Recommend Fundamental Overhaul

The United States needs to fundamentally rethink its policy of promoting ethanol to diversify its energy sources and increase energy security, according to a new research paper and accompanying policy paper by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The papers question the economic, environmental and logistical basis for the... Read more →


Study Finds Switchgrass Most Efficient of Four Perennial Grasses for Cultivation as Biofuel Feedstock Crop

A study by researchers at Oklahoma State University concluded that of four perennial grasses that could be grown as dedicated biofuel feedstock crops—bermudagrass, flaccidgrass, switchgrass, and weeping lovegrass—switchgrass is the most efficient in terms of dry biomass per dollar cost. An earlier US Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of... Read more →


Delft Researchers Create New Metabolic Pathway in Yeast to Boost Ethanol Yield from Biomass Waste

Researchers from Delft University of Technology have engineered the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase ethanol yield from biomass waste by eliminating production of glycerol (glycerol production is essential to reoxidize NADH produced in biosynthetic processes), reoxidizing NADH instead by the reduction of acetic acid to ethanol. A paper on their... Read more →


POET Reduces Cellulosic Ethanol Production Cost from $4.13 to $2.35/Gallon in First Year of Pilot Operation; <$2.00/Gallon Target for Commercial Start

Over the first year of operations of its pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in South Dakota (earlier post), POET has reduced its per gallon production cost from $4.13 to $2.35, exceeding its expectations. Cost reduction came via reductions in energy usage, enzyme costs, raw material requirements and capital expenses. The pilot... Read more →


DOE and USDA Select Projects for More Than $24M in Biomass Research and Development Grants

The US Departments of Agriculture and Energy selected projects for more than $24 million in grants to research and develop technologies to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. Of the $24.4 million announced today, DOE plans to invest up to $4.9 million with USDA contributing up to $19.5 million.... Read more →


Accenture timeline for evolution of electrification technologies, the “game-changing” subset of the disruptive technologies. Source: Accenture. Click to enlarge. Accenture has identified 12 technologies that it concludes have the potential to disrupt the current views of transport fuels supply, demand and GHG emissions over the next 10 years. In a... Read more →


Ceres $5M ARPA-E Project to Focus on Increasing Biomass Yields of Energy Grasses by Up to 40%

Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. plans to expand an advanced trait development project to increase biomass yields of several energy grasses by as much as 40% in coming years, while simultaneously decreasing the use of inputs such as nitrogen fertilizers. The project will be funded in part by a $5... Read more →


INEOS Bio Begins Advanced Waste-to-Ethanol Plant Feasibility Study

The INEOS Bio waste-to-ethanol process, originally developed by BRI. Click to enlarge. INEOS Bio, a subsidiary of INEOS, the world’s third-largest chemicals company, has started a feasibility study for a plant in the UK to convert locally generated biodegradable household and commercial wastes into carbon neutral road transport fuel and... Read more →


UC Riverside Researchers Create First Synthetic Cellulosome in Yeast; Potential to Make Renewable Fuel Production More Efficient and Economical

A team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside (UCR) Professor of Chemical Engineering Wilfred Chen has constructed for the first time a synthetic cellulosome in yeast which is much more ethanol-tolerant than the bacteria in which these structures are normally found. The yeast cellulosome could enable efficient one-step... Read more →


ArborGen LLC and Clemson University Form Research Cooperative on Woody Biomass for Biofuels

Clemson University and ArborGen LLC are partnering to develop purpose-grown woody biomass as feedstock for the biofuels industry. The cooperative will support South Carolina’s ethanol industry based on existing cellulose conversion technology, foster multi-agency collaboration and engage students in research and internships. ArborGen and Clemson will identify areas of joint... Read more →


Researchers Sequence Genome of Sugarcane Ethanol Yeast; Potential for Cellulosic Ethanol

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center, the University of North Carolina, and Brazil have sequenced the genome of PE-2, a strain of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that thrives on turning sugarcane into ethanol. An open access paper on the work was published in the journal Genome Research. When oil prices... Read more →


Qteros and Applied CleanTech Partner to Produce Ethanol from Cellulose Extracted from Sewage Sludge

Biofuels company Qteros has entered into a joint development project with Applied CleanTech (ACT), a commodities recycling company based in Israel, to use ACT’s Recyllose-based feedstock, produced from municipal wastewater solids (sewage sludge), for more efficient and lower-cost ethanol production by Qteros’ Q Microbe technology. Qteros’ system converts a wide... Read more →


Forecast: Global Biofuels Use to Double by 2015, Second-Gen Biofuels to Lag Expectations

Despite a number of key issues such as land use and competition for feedstocks supplies for traditional food and feed uses, global use of biofuels is excepted to more than double from 2009 to 2015, according to a new global analysis released by Hart Energy Publishing’s Global Biofuels Center (GBC).... Read more →


US DOE Awards POET Additional $6.85M for Feedstock Infrastructure for Cellulosic Ethanol

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $6.85 million funding increase to an existing grant to ethanol producer POET. This is the first of two funding increases from DOE to help establish a market for corn cobs. The second, expected next year, is estimated to provide an additional... Read more →


Mascoma Announces Feedstock Processing and Lignin Supply Agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures; Chevron Working on Converting Lignin to Hydrocarbon Fuel Components

Mascoma Corporation has entered into a feedstock processing and lignin supply agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), a division of Chevron USA, Inc. Under terms of the agreement, CTV will provide various sources of lignocellulosic feedstock to Mascoma. Mascoma will then convert the feedstock to cellulosic ethanol through its proprietary... Read more →


Nitrate output within the MARB (colored bars, lefthand y-axis) and mean areal extent of hypoxia in the NGOM with “No Buffer” and “50% Buffer” (gray scale bars, righthand y-axis). Nitrate output columns represent mean values and the 80% credible intervals from modeling. Credit: ACS, Costello et. al. Click to enlarge.... Read more →


FuturaGene to Develop Enhanced Poplar for the Chinese Biofuel and Biopower Markets

Israel-based FuturaGene PLC, a plant genetic researcher and developer for global forestry, biofuel and agricultural markets, has entered into an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) to develop new enhanced poplar variants that feature increased yield, processability and abiotic stress characteristics for the Chinese domestic market. This is... Read more →


DOE Selects High-Tonnage Biomass Feedstock Projects for up to $21M in Funding

The US Department of Energy will award up to $21 million to five projects that will develop supply systems to handle and deliver high-tonnage biomass feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels production. The selection of the projects is in response to a funding opportunity announcement issued by DOE back in March.(Earlier post.)... Read more →


NEMO will focus on novel enzymes for hydrolysis and novel microorganisms for cellulosic ethanol production to identify the most eco-efficient and economic process options for cellulosic ethanol. Source: Universita Degli Studi di Milano. Click to enlarge. The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has launched, as co-ordinator, the NEMO project... Read more →


Cumulative percentage (in 2008) of lodgepole pine killed by the pine beetle infestation in British Columbia. Source: BC Ministry of Forests and Range. Click to enlarge. Two new genomic research projects in British Columbia (Canada), largely funded by Genome British Columbia, are investigating two separate aspects of forestry biofuels in... Read more →


Consumptive freshwater use for ethanol and petroleum gasoline production. Data: Wu, ANL/ESD/09-1. Click to enlarge. In the US, producing one gallon of ethanol from switchgrass consumes approximately the same net amount of water as does producing a gallon of gasoline from conventional crude or oil sands oil, according to a... Read more →


TMO Closes £11M Funding Round for Cellulosic Ethanol Technology; Targeting US Entry With Novel Thermophilic Bacterium

UK-based TMO Renewables Ltd, the developer of a novel thermophilic bacterium and process for converting biomass into fuel ethanol (earlier post), completed an £11 million (US$18 million) financing round from a range of institutional shareholders and private investors. The funds will be used as working capital, primarily to support TMO’s... Read more →


Estimates of potential for gasoline consumption reduction in the US light duty fleet in 2020 and 2035 relative to 2007. Projected consumption assumes efficiency improvements in powertrain and vehicle are offset by increases in performance, size and weight. Improvements result from an optimistic scenario achieving doubling of new vehicle fuel... Read more →


DOE and USDA Award $6.3M for Genomics-Enabled Biofuels Research

The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture jointly selected seven projects for awards of up to $6.3 million towards fundamental genomics-enabled research leading to the improved use of plant feedstocks for biofuel production. These grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program begun in 2006 that is committed to... Read more →


Researchers Outline Consensus Position on “Beneficial Biofuels”

Noting that society “cannot afford to miss out” on the multiple benefits of biofuels “done right”, but that society also “cannot accept the undesirable impacts of biofuels done wrong,” eleven researchers suggest what they describe as a consensus position on beneficial biofuels in a paper published 17 July in Science.... Read more →


Fluorescence images of a stem of switchgrass treated with EmimAc ionic liquid showing the section (a) before treatment (b) 20 minutes after treatment (c) 50 minutes after treatment and (d) two hours after treatment when the organized plant cell wall structure has been completely broken down. Source: JBEI. Click to... Read more →


Concept for hydrogen gas coproduction from cellulosic ethanol byproduct streams. Credit: ACS. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Oregon State University have demonstrated the gasification of water-soluble biomass constituents in supercritical water in a microchannel reactor under isothermal, continuous flow condition at short residence times to produce a hydrogen-rich gas. This... Read more →


Ceres National Switchgrass Field Trials Show Average 2008 Biomass Yields 50% Higher Than Federal Projected Yields for 2022

Yield results from energy crop company Ceres, Inc.’s nation-wide network of field trials showed that average biomass yields among switchgrass seed varieties tested last season were as much as 50% higher than the government’s projected yields for 2022. Proprietary varieties sold under the company’s Blade Energy Crops brand were consistently... Read more →


Mascoma Achieves Set of Research Advances with Cellulosic Biofuels; Proof of Concept for Consolidated Bioprocessing

Mascoma Corporation has made major research advances in consolidated bioprocessing, or CBP, a low-cost processing strategy for production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass. (Earlier post.) Presented by Mascoma Chief Technology Officer Dr. Mike Ladisch at the 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in San Francisco, the advances, which... Read more →


President Obama Establishes Biofuels Interagency Working Group; Push on Biofuel Development/Commercialization and Flex-Fuel Vehicle Use

US President Barack Obama has established a Biofuels Interagency Working Group, to be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to further the research, development and commercialization of biofuels. The announcement came in conjunction with the EPA’s release of its notice... Read more →


31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals; Some New Approaches for Producing Butanol

The 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, a special conference of the Society for Industrial Microbiology, began yesterday in San Francisco with its largest group of conferees yet—approximately 850. The academic conference, hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), runs through Wednesday and features a large technical... Read more →


Ceres and University of Georgia Researchers Focus on High-Yielding Switchgrass for Southeast US

Energy crop company Ceres, Inc., will work with University of Georgia researchers to develop new high-yielding switchgrass seed varieties and improved crop management techniques for the southeastern United States. Switchgrass, which can reach yields of 6 to 10 dry tons or more in the Southeast, is being widely considered as... Read more →


Analysis of Superfamily of Plant Genes Yielding Insights to Assist in Optimizing Plants for Biofuel Production

By studying a superfamily of genes in Populus and Arabidopsis, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory are gaining insights that may assist in engineering plants to be more tractable for biofuel production. The study, published online 3 April in the journal Plant Molecular Biology, also lays... Read more →


SCOPE Biofuels Project Releases Assessment on Environmental Effects of Biofuel Technologies

The SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment) International Biofuels Project, has published the full proceedings of its Rapid Assessment workshop on the environmental effects of biofuel technologies, 22-25 September 2008. SCOPE is part of the International Council for Science. While noting that most recent studies based on lifecycle... Read more →


Portions of three natural fungal cellulase enzymes that have been recombined to produce a synthetic, thermostable cellulase are denoted by blue, green and red coloring. The recombined cellulase enzyme modeled here functions at higher temperatures than any of the three parents. Source: Caltech. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the California... Read more →


New JBEI Methodology Speeds Search for Cellulosic Biofuel Microbes

A new analytical technique developed by researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) promises to speed up greatly the search for microbes that can ferment complex cellulosic sugars under the harsh conditions of biofuels production, such as high temperature, and do not become inhibited by... Read more →