Deinove announces progress with Deinococcus bacteria

By Deinove | January 17, 2014

Deinove, a cleantech company that designs and develops new industrial production processes based on the exploitation of Deinococcus bacteria, has managed to produce 9 percent ethanol with unparalleled performance thanks to its exclusive production process.

For several years now, the global biofuels industry has resolutely turned towards 2nd generation biofuels, i.e. from non-food biomass. So far, no process has been able to harness lignocellulosic biomass in an economically competitive way. Deinove shows that its bacterial process is suitable for converting this type of biomass to biofuel and should offer industrial production costs fall in line with market expectations. With the Deinol project initiated in 2009 and partly financed by Bpifrance (French Innovation Bank), Deinove paves the way for a renewable, responsible and profitable alternative to oil and gas fossil fuels.

Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of Deiove, said, "With an alcohol titer at 9 percent, 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." He added, "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."

Jacqueline Lecourtier, former scientific director of the French Petroleum Institute who has recently assumed the chairmanship of Deinove’s scientific council said, "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."

Professor Rodney J. Rothstein, board member at Deinove, professor of genetics and development at the University of Columbia Medical Center said, "This is a real technological achievement given that no other microorganism combines such high content ethanol production with the ability to decompose non-food biomass - two fundamental technological barriers to the development of 2nd generation biofuels."

The 9 percent content v/v (volume/volume) equal to 7.2 percent wt/v (weight/volume) widely exceeds the 5 percent alcohol content wt/v, considered to be the threshold for industrial exploitation of the process for 2nd generation biofuels. The obtained performance is gradually getting closer to the maximum theoretical yield. This data supports the industrial and economic potential of the Deinove method relying on the unique capabilities of Deinococcus bacteria that the company is the only one in the world to exploit. To Deinove’s 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.

In the third quarter of 2012, Deinove already demonstrated the ability of optimized Deinococcus bacterium to transform 80 percent of a non-food biomass into simple sugars, and then convert these sugars into ethanol in laboratory fermentors (from 1 to 5 L) with a 3 percent titer. Today, Deinove engineering technology has improved and been automated in order to develop a strain producing ethanol at high alcohol content: 9 percent, from glucose as substrate in 20 L pre-industrial fermentors.

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. At this stage, it can be concluded that Deinococcus is the ideal candidate for biofuel production as it is very undemanding on the environment in which it can develop and act.

Deinove started a new test campaign in 300 liter bioreactors provided by Sanofi in Toulouse, which are 15 times the size of current production volumes, 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.

The Deinol process has many competitive advantages to prevail in the race for a 2nd generation biofuel standard:

- The Deinococcus confirm their unique and exceptional properties: very stable bacteria even after being optimized and particularly resistant to molecules normally toxic for any organism.

- Deinove has extremely powerful proprietary tools in its new laboratory that allow the company to modify the Deinococcus genome easily due to its natural genetic properties.

- Deinol simplifies production with an "all-in-one" consolidated bioprocessing process (CBP) to jointly ensure hydrolysis and fermentation.

- Deinol removes thermal stress: 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. Deinococcus makes this unnecessary as it is thermophilic and thus works at high temperatures of 48 degrees Celsius.

- Finally, in contrast to most bacteria, the Deinococcus are 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.

- Deinol relies on Deinove’s strong worldwide intellectual property rights for the industrial exploitation of the Deinococcus.