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Feds Give Novozymes $2.5M to Boost Biofuels

By Jeremy Summers, NCBiotech Writer


Courtesy of Novozymes North America Inc.

Novozymes is getting up to $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to find new and more-efficient enzymes that can turn corn stover into fuel for cars and trucks.

The company, which makes leading enzymes for converting agricultural waste into biofuels, has partnered with industrial biotechnology firm MBI for the project, entitled “Syntec.” 

Syntec project, to run for two years, will rely on biology to rapidly and cost-effectively screen natural enzyme diversity for the best-performing enzymes. Each combination of enzymes will be tested on pre-treated agricultural waste that can first be converted into sugars and then into bio-based products and advanced biofuels.

Project will use enzymes for efficient biofuels production

Novozymes’ work will support the Energy Department's focus on research, development and demonstration efforts to achieve affordable, scalable and sustainable advanced biofuels. 

Novozymes has already reduced the cost of enzyme production for biofuels by 90 percent. Once the new screening process is proven, it can be used to rapidly develop tailored cost-effective enzyme solutions for specific industrial biorefineries.

The use of enzymes can eliminate many of the environmental and commercial drawbacks of chemical-based industrial processes. Unlike many chemicals, enzymes can be used in mild conditions, such as moderate temperatures and pH levels. Enzymes are also far more efficient than chemicals, as only small amounts of enzymes are needed in order to carry out chemical reactions on an industrial scale. Additionally, enzymes reduce the impact of manufacturing on the environment by reducing the use of chemicals, water and energy, and the subsequent generation of waste.

The Syntec projects marks the third time Novozymes has partnered with the D.O.E. for bioenergy enzyme development. In 2001, the company worked on a four-year bioenergy project worth $13.8 million. From 2008-2012, the company worked on a $12.3 million project to develop a commercial-ready enzyme application system for ethanol.

In February 2012, Novozymes launched its latest enzyme solution, Cellic CTec3, for advanced biofuels.  The product enables cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol and performs 1.5 times better than Novozymes’ previous version, Cellic CTec2.

About Novozymes

Novozymes is a global industrial biotechnology company and world leader in enzymes, microorganisms and biopharmaceutical ingredients. The company harnesses the chemical productivity of microorganisms through fermentation to create over 700 enzyme products used in 130 countries. Together with customers across more than 30 industries, the company creates tomorrow’s industrial bio-solutions, many of these at its North American headquarters in Franklinton, which employs approximately 500 people. These products are used in industry worldwide for everything from processing cotton to making stone-washed denim to brewing beer and treating wastewater.

The company is a partner in a new $99 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Sampson County that is expected to be fully operational in 2014. The plant will provide an estimated 65 direct jobs and another 250 indirect jobs, mostly in Eastern and Southeastern North Carolina.

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