Novozymes announces new advanced biofuels enzyme technology

By Novozymes | February 22, 2012

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — Moving advanced biofuels along the path to full-scale commercialization—and the world toward a more affordable clean fuel for our cars, buses, and trucks – Novozymes today unveiled its latest innovation, trademarked Novozymes Cellic CTec3. The enzyme enables cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol and performs 1.5 times better than Novozymes’ previous advanced biofuels enzyme, Cellic CTec2. Using Cellic CTec3, biofuel producers need only one-fifth of the enzyme dose compared to competing enzymes. Cellic CTec3 allows the cost of producing ethanol from biomass to approach the level of corn ethanol and gasoline.

“The first plants start commercial production of advanced biofuels this year,” said Novozymes’ CEO Steen Riisgaard. “Novozymes has signed supply deals with a number of the leading players in this field, and we’re thrilled to supply the enzymes that will enable an advanced biofuels industry and contribute to job creation, economic growth, and energy security. With our new product, Cellic CTec3, and the first plants starting commercial production, this is a huge step forward in the transition from an oil-based economy to a bio-based economy. We will continue to develop more efficient enzymes to further reduce the total cost of producing advanced biofuels.”

Among the first-movers are M&G and Fiberight. Both companies will use Cellic CTec3 in their operations and are set to begin production this year. “With Cellic CTec3 Novozymes again demonstrates its unique ability to deliver timely innovation, which we are using to build the world’s largest advanced biofuel plant. We’re confident that we will continue to realize process improvements together far into the future,” said Guido Ghisolfi, Vice President of M&G Group, which is scheduled to open a facility in Crescentino, Italy, producing 13 MMgy of ethanol from wheat straw, energy crops, and other locally available feedstocks.

“Novozymes helped us show the world that it really is possible to turn municipal solid waste into valuable biofuel. Novozymes is a partner that truly believes there are no limits to innovation,” said Craig Stuart-Paul, CEO of Fiberight. Fiberight will open a small-scale plant in Lawrenceville, Va., this year, and a plant producing 6 MMgy in Blairstown, Iowa, in 2013. Both plants will convert municipal solid waste into biofuel. See other Novozymes’ partners to start commercial production this year.

Advanced biofuels are produced from cellulose in biomass such as wheat straw, corn stalks, household waste, or energy crops such as switchgrass. The biomass is first broken down into a pulp. Enzymes are then added, turning the pulp into sugar that can be fermented into fuels, feed, and chemicals.

Highly effective, it takes only 50 kilograms of Cellic CTec3 to make 1 ton of ethanol from biomass. By comparison, it requires at least 250 kilograms of a competing enzyme product to make the same amount of ethanol.

Global production capacity of ethanol from cellulose is estimated to reach about 15 million gallons in 2012 and 250 million gallons in 2014. A recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the advanced biofuels industry has the potential to create millions of jobs, economic growth, and energy security worldwide.

Looking at the US alone, the study shows that using less than 20 percent of the available agricultural residues the US could produce more than 18 billion gallons of ethanol every year, replacing 16 percent of its gasoline consumption by 2030. This would create 1.4 million jobs and reduce CO2 emissions from gasoline-based transportation by 11 percent. The numbers would be even higher if biomass from forestry residues, household waste, and energy crops were included.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, a legislative mandate on the use of renewable fuels in the U.S., targets production of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2022.

Novozymes’ Executive Vice President Peder Holk Nielsen will discuss Cellic CTec3 February 23, at a breakfast briefing for industry and media at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla.