DSM, DONG Energy report improved cellulosic ethanol yield

By Royal DSM | December 04, 2013

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

At the core of DSM’s strategic focus on Life Sciences and Materials Sciences is the combination of life sciences competences with chemical and materials sciences competences. DSM believes that this ‘Bright Science’ will open up a broad range of opportunities in the move towards a bio-based economy, particularly in bioenergy carriers such as cellulosic bio-ethanol, advanced biodiesel and biogas and renewable chemicals and building blocks such as bio-based succinic acid and bio-based adipic acid.

DSM’s Bio-Energy cluster has its main activities in Elgin, Ill., São Paulo, Brazil, and Delft, Netherlands.

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. 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 percent more ethanol per ton of straw than traditional C6 fermentation.

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.

Jan Larsen, head of research and development Inbicon, said: "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."

Christian Koolloos, business manager bio-ethanol at DSM, said: “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.”

The joint work by DONG Energy and DSM, in which excellent collaboration has produced an important result, 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 and 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.