Novozymes adds yeast to bioenergy portfolio

By Lisa Gibson | June 16, 2017

Novozymes, the Denmark-based world leader in industrial enzyme development, is expanding its bioenergy offerings to include yeast. For the ethanol industry, the yeast line is expected to increase efficiency and boost yield, according to Peter Halling, Novozymes’ vice president of commercial biofuels.

“We have a very strong foundation in biotechnology, and yeast was a natural area for us to expand,” he said. “We’ve been developing yeast from the bottom up. It’s our own, unique yeast.” The expansion allows more options for Novozymes’ customers, including combining yeast with its patented enzymes.

The company began its research into yeast years ago, first in the cellulosic sector. Raízen in Brazil uses a C5 Novozymes yeast in its production of cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane bagasse. Now, Novozymes also is developing strains for starch-based ethanol processes, and hopes to have its first commercial product available in North America in 2018, Halling said. “We are definitely on track to broaden more. We have it in several facilities and we’ve seen great results. We’ve been very happy so far.”

The innovation potential in the yeast sector is exciting, Halling said, and working closely with customers is crucial. “We have an ambition around expanding our position in the market, but we want to do that through customers who are thrilled about working with Novozymes and our technology.”

While enzymes have evolved and improved, yeast strains used for ethanol production largely have remained static, most based on the same organisms, Halling said. He added that Novozymes’ expertise in innovation will allow it to bring the same continuous improvement to the industry’s yeast offerings.

“It’s a big step and we’re humble about getting into this market, but we’re confident we can deliver.”

Dale Earls, Novozymes staff scientist, will speak about yeast at the 2017 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, June 19 to 22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Earls’ presentation will be during the panel titled “Harnessing the Industry’s Best Science on Yeast Health and the Factors that Impact It to Maximize Yield,” June 20 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in room 101HI.