Process Management

News 228 views last update:6 Aug 2012

DSM invests in ethanol enzyme technology

Royal DSM announced the execution of a multimillion dollar cooperative funding agreement with the US Department of Energy to underwrite a portion of research and development costs aimed at enabling "second generation" biofuels from non-food feedstocks.

In February 2008, a consortium led by DSM that includes Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory  was awarded US$7.4 million by the Department of Energy toward a proposed $33 million program to conduct cost effective enzyme development for the production of cellulose-based biofuels.

DSM has committed to funding the majority of the project costs and to creating new highly skilled "green collar" jobs at its Belvidere, NJ facility.

The research will help further the Department of Energy's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012.

"This initiative is a major step forward in DSM's mission to make Industrial Biotechnology a competitive alternative for manufacturing sustainable and renewable fuel, material and medicine," says Feike Sijbesma, DSM CEO.

In the project the participants will work during the next four years to develop cost efficient enzymes to allow for the manufacturing of commercial quantities of second generation biofuel.

This work has already begun, and will continue at DSM's facility in New Jersey, and around the world.

Proprietary enzymes that make it possible to hydrolyze cellulose and xylose from various plant residues are available today, but a significant volume of R&D and collaborative partnerships are still needed to make the process commercially viable.

Second generation biofuels
Soaring energy prices, renewed concerns about climate change, and escalating raw material costs have created a growing interest in "Industrial Biotechnology" -- the use of living cells and their enzymes to create products from renewable resources.

Development of conversion technologies for plant residues and "lower value", non-food / feed based feedstocks is currently a major focus for DSM R&D across multiple end product applications including advanced biofuels.

Using feedstocks such as wheat straw, corn stover and so-called "energy crops" will enable the cost effective operation of future large scale integrated biorefineries.

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