Shell, Codexis to enhance Iogen cellulosic process

By Ryan C. Christiansen | March 05, 2009
Web exclusive posted March 12, 2009, at 3:12 p.m. CST

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC has expanded its agreement with Redwood City, Calif.-based biocatalyst developer Codexis Inc. to further develop enzymes and microbes that will accelerate the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.

Under the agreement, Codexis will work with Iogen Corp., a cellulosic ethanol producer with its headquarters and 10-acre enzyme and cellulosic ethanol manufacturing facility in Ottawa, to enhance the efficiency of the biocatalysts used in Iogen's cellulosic ethanol production process. Iogen's demonstration plant currently produces ethanol from mainly wheat straw.

Shell and Codexis will also continue collaborative research in the U.S. and Hungary to investigate using biocatalysts to convert biomass directly into biofuels that are similar to petroleum gasoline and diesel. The research, originally announced in November 2007, includes creating what Codexis has dubbed "super enzymes" that are capable of outperforming naturally occurring varieties.

To engineer super enzymes, Codexis uses DNA shuffling, a research technique that takes select genes or gene variants and recombines the DNA to create new hybrid genes. The resulting gene library is then screened for novel biocatalysts that possess desired properties. The company said it has successfully applied the technology to improve manufacturing processes for pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc.

Shell said it has also increased its equity stake in Codexis and will take an additional seat on the company's board.

For more information about Iogen, read the following articles: