Economically Viable Cellulosic Ethanol

Alternative energy source can be commercially viable.

Applying advanced enzyme technology to the production of fuel from grain and cellulosic feedstock, Novozymes, a Denmark-based alternative energy company laid out a strategy on March 22 which would result in economically viable cellulosic ethanol.

The announcement was made at the 4th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Orlando, Fla.

"Cellulosic ethanol fuel is poised to create a multidimensional positive impact on the world's economy, resources, environment and political situation. Novozymes' five-step strategy is designed to foster not only the scientific progress of cellulosic ethanol, but also the commercial viability of this critical energy source," said Per Falholt, Novozymes' chief scientific officer.

The strategy comprises:

  1. Continued funding of research and development (specifically in the areas of biomass conversion and the development of a commercial process technology.)
  2. Establishment of flexible configuration testing and development centers, geographically distributed to address multiple types of biomass feedstock and integrate processes (pretreatment, hydrolysis and fermentation.)
  3. Scientific advancement to increase cost efficiency by improving underlying agricultural practices (collection and harvest of biomass) and pre-treatment methods.
  4. Scientific advancement in biotechnology (including enzyme technology, metabolic engineering and novel separation methods.)
  5. Continued bi-partisan support of a national infrastructure to support practical implementation (including funding, incentives and tax credits.)

"Because these new enzymatic technologies have the potential to be used on many different crops to produce biofuels from cellulose, it is important to ensure coordination at a number of different levels, including in university research programs, commercial development and agricultural production, and the identification of suitable crops," explained Maria Rapoza, vice president for Science and Technology, North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

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