Novozymes (NVZ.L) and Genencor, two companies leading research & development for advanced cellulosic ethanol, separately announced breakthroughs this week at the the Renewable Fuels Association’s 15th Annual National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Novozymes said its new Cellic® CTec2 enzymes enable the biofuel industry to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price below US$ 2.00 per gallon for the initial commercial-scale plants that are scheduled to be in operation in 2011. This cost is on par with gasoline and conventional ethanol at the current US market prices.
Novozymes said the new enzyme can be used on different types of feedstock including corn cobs and stalks, wheat straw, sugarcane bagasse, and woodchips. The enzyme is designed to break down cellulose in biomass into sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.
"Biofuel producers now have a critical component to turn agricultural waste into a competitive alternative to gasoline,” Novozymes’ CEO Steen Riisgaard said.
Advances in enzyme development have reduced the enzyme cost for cellulosic ethanol by 80% over the past two years and enzyme costs are now down to approximately 50 cents per gallon of cellulosic ethanol, according to Novozyme’s figures.
Application of enzymes is one of two primary methods for producing cellulosic ethanol. Gasification is the other.
Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S (DCO.CO) introduced its version of an enzyme designed to do the same thing.
Genencor did not give any specific cost figures, but said that its Accellerase® DUET product line will achieve higher sugar and biofuel yields, often at 3-fold lower dosing, and it is feedstock- and pretreatment-flexible. Higher performance at lower dose would lower enzyme costs for producers.