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Enzyme to slash costs on advanced biofuels

Biofuels firm claims “Cutting-edge” enzyme is five times more efficient than current technologies

Novozymes produces enzymes for the production of cellulosic ethanol
Novozymes produces enzymes for the production of cellulosic ethanol

An enzyme has been unveiled which is set to slash costs on biofuels production. Danish Page Contfirm Novozymes has developed the Cellic CTec3 enzyme, which it claims performs better than any other enzymes on the market.

The enzyme enables cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol. Using Cellic CTec3, biofuel producers need only one-fifth of the enzyme dose compared to competing enzymes. Cellic CTec3 allows the cost of producing ethanol from biomass to approach the level of corn ethanol and gasoline.

Advanced biofuels are produced from cellulose in biomass such as wheat straw, corn stalks, household waste, or energy crops such as switchgrass. The biomass is first broken down into a pulp. Enzymes are then added, turning the pulp into sugar that can be fermented into fuels, feed, and chemicals.

Highly effective, it takes only 50kg of Cellic CTec3 to make 1 ton of ethanol from biomass. By comparison, it requires at least 250kg of a competing enzyme product to make the same amount of ethanol.

Novozymes’ CEO Steen Riisgaard, said: “With our new product, Cellic CTec3, and the first plants starting commercial production, this is a huge step forward in the transition from an oil-based economy to a bio-based economy. We will continue to develop more efficient enzymes to further reduce the total cost of producing advanced biofuels.

“The first plants start commercial production of advanced biofuels this year, he added. “Novozymes has signed supply deals with a number of the leading players in this field, and we’re thrilled to supply the enzymes that will enable an advanced biofuels industry and contribute to job creation, economic growth, and energy security.”