Novozymes, Terranol Partner on Yeast to Boost Biofuels Industry

Novozymes A/S (NZYMB) agreement to market Terranol A/S’s yeast technology as the world’s biggest maker of enzymes seeks to make biofuels from energy crops and agricultural waste commercially viable.

The agreement will enable Novozymes to speed up global deployment of Terranol’s yeast technology used in the production of cellulosic ethanol, Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Novozymes said today in a statement.

Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from agricultural waste and energy crops. Novozymes supplies enzymes to break down matter such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and wheat straw into two types of sugars, C5 and C6, that biofuel producers ferment into ethanol.

The C5 sugars are tougher to ferment. Terranol has developed yeasts that process both types of sugars and deliver optimal ethanol yields, according to the company’s website.

“The fermentation of C5 sugars are proving something of an Achilles heel in the development of a cellulosic biofuels industry,” said Harry Boyle, an analyst at London-based research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Improved C5 fermentation performance will considerably boost ethanol yields from corn stover and wheat straw, while further helping the industry to scale.”

High-performing and cost-efficient yeast helps speed up the transition from demonstration scale projects to large scale commercialization, Novozymes said in the statement. Novozymes and Denmark-based Terranol’s combined research and development will ensure “final optimization” of the yeast strain, according to the statement.

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