Codexis Inc. , the U.S. biotechnology developer, is collaborating with Brazil’s largest ethanol producer to create strains of yeast that may boost the output of plants that turn sugar cane into fuel.
The companies are planning a pilot project at Raizen Energia SA’s Bonfim mill in Sao Paulo state, Redwood City-based Codexis said today in a statement.
The goal is to increase the amount of ethanol that can be produced from sugar cane, and Codexis plans to sell the technology at the end of 2012 to other companies in Brazil, where there are more than 300 mills, Codexis’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Shaw said today in an interview.
“If we improve yields in the low-single digits, we could make hundreds of millions of dollars here,” he said.
Raizen, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Cosan SA Industria & Comercio, is Codexis’s biggest shareholder with a 16 percent stake, Shaw said.
The cane processor made 600 million gallons (2.3 billion liters) of ethanol in 2010, about 8.6 percent of Brazil’s total production, according to the statement.