DuPont and Danish group Danisco said May 14 they are creating a global company to produce cellulosic ethanol, a renewable biofuel produced from non-food sources. DuPont and Genencor, a Danisco division, will form a 50-50 joint venture to develop and market the "leading, low-cost technology solution" for the production of the next-generation ethanol, the companies said.
The two partners estimated the global market opportunity for the ethanol made from cellulose, the fibrous material of plants, at $75 billion.
Unlike corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol is not yet available on a mass commercial basis. It can be blended with gasoline to produce a lower-cost transportation fuel that produces less greenhouse-gas emissions than those from gasoline. "With food and gas prices surging at double-digit rates, there is an imperative for sustainable biofuels technologies. This joint venture addresses this issue head on," said Charles Holliday, DuPont chairman and chief.
An initial three-year investment of $140 million would focus first on corn stover, the stalks left after corn is harvested, and sugar cane bagasse, the fibrous waste-product left after sugar refining. Future targets include wheat straw, a variety of energy crops and other biomass sources.
The new company, to be named DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, would have its first pilot factory up and running in the U.S. in 2009, and its first commercial-scale demonstration facility operating within the next three years. The new company would license its technology directly to ethanol producers for use in the U.S. and around the world.
"The joint venture expects to enable production of commercial volumes of cellulosic ethanol by 2012," said the long-time partners, which have collaborated since 1995.
The U.S. Department of Energy has supported the efforts of DuPont and Genencor, a leading industrial biotechnology company, through multiple grants totaling more than $60 million since 2002, they noted.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008