DOE awards grants to develop bio-based fuel
The grants, announced by Andrew Karsner, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, will build on President Bush’s goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012 and be appropriated over a four-year period for fiscal years 2008 through 2011.
Cellulosic ethanol is a clean, environmentally-friendly and renewable transportation fuel made from a wide variety of non-food materials, including sugarcane bagasse, dedicated energy crops, agricultural wastes and wood products.
By relying on a variety of biomass, cellulosic ethanol can be produced in nearly every region of the country, using material grown locally. Though it requires a more complex refining process, cellulosic ethanol contains more net energy and results in lower greenhouse emissions than traditional corn-based ethanol.
These four projects seek to more cost-effectively and efficiently breakdown processed biomass into fermentable sugars, a significant challenge in converting biomass into fuels. Projects were selected based on their demonstrated ability to reduce the cost of enzymes-per-gallon of ethanol by improving an enzyme’s performance. Selected projects also must demonstrate the ability to produce enzymes at a commercial-scale, and have a sound business strategy to market the enzymes or enzyme production systems in biorefinery operations.
“Success of these projects will play a pivotal role in the rapid development and deployment of renewable fuels to reduce emissions and dependence on foreign oil, and fundamentally change how we power our vehicles,” DOE’s Karsner said. “Supported by the President’s ambitious plan to dramatically reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent in ten years, the Department is on track to bring online more clean, abundant, affordable and domestically produced biofuels at a rate and scale that will have a substantial impact on our entire transportation sector.”
The DOE now will work with the selected companies to determine final project plans and funding levels, subject to appropriations by Congress. Selected projects include:
–DSM Innovation Center Inc. (Parsippany, N.J.): Development of a Commercial Enzymes System for Lignocellulosic Biomass Saccharification. This project will employ DSM’s internal, proprietary fungal systems to develop new approaches to improve enzymes for the conversion of pretreated lignocellulosic biomass into sugars suitable for fermentation into cellulosic ethanol.
–Genencor, a Division of Danisco USA Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.): Enhancing Cellulase Commercial Performance for the Lignocellulosic Biomass Industry. This project plans to reduce the enzyme-dose level required for biomass saccharification by improving the specific performance of the Trichoderma Reesei mix of fungal-based cellulases to facilitate production of cellulosic ethanol from sugars produced by the saccharification process.
–Novozymes Inc. (Davis, Calif.): Project Decrease–Development of a Commercial-Ready Enzyme Application System for Ethanol. This project aims to improve performance of Novozymes’ most advanced enzyme system by decreasing the dosage of enzyme required to hydrolyze biomass into fermentable sugars suitable for cellulosic ethanol production.
–Verenium Corp. (San Diego, Calif.): Commercialization of Customized Cellulase Solutions for Biomass Saccharification. This project will leverage Verenium’s advanced enzyme development capabilities to commercialize a cellulase enzyme system to produce a more cost-effective enzyme solution for biomass saccharification processes that also will tolerate conditions that enable more efficient process economics in producing ethanol from cellulosics.