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Novozymes execs see greater efficiency, more specialized uses for ethanol production

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Novozymes used the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla., as an opportunity to showcase its newest enzyme for advanced biofuels: Cellic CTec3. The company’s latest enzyme is 1.5 times more efficient than is predecessor, CTec2, which means that Novozymes customers, cellulosic ethanol plants, can use one-third less of a dosage to get the same results, or plants can increase their productivity by producing more ethanol with the same dosage of enzymes.

That means that cellulosic ethanol producers can save on operating costs, said Poul Ruben Andersen, Novozymes’ vice president of bioenergy. Some of the company’s partners will begin using CTec3 later this year.

The first version of CTec was introduced in 2009, a year later, Novozymes rolled out CTec2, which boasted greater efficiency than the original. CTec3 is a robust enzyme, but the company will shift from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more tailored one with CTec4, Andersen told SmartBrief at the conference hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association.

“What we’re seeing is CTec3 is not the end of the road. … We’ll start tailor-making these enzymes more specifically to different kinds of raw materials,” Andersen said.

The enzyme cocktail will have different versions designed to convert feedstocks like corn stover, wheat straw, sugarcane, wood and municipal solid waste. That means that Novozymes’ partners will be able to select a flavor of CTec4 that’s right for the type of biomass they want to convert.

Cellulosic ethanol is an industry just beginning to emerge around the world. However, it needs the support of governments to continue to grow. In the U.S., the federal government should maintain and increase the Renewable Fuel Standard, which currently requires domestic gasoline to contain up to 10% ethanol, said Jason Blake, Novozymes’ global director of biomass business development. Further, federal grants and other forms of funds must continue to allow technological advancements to be made, making cellulosic ethanol a more and more viable energy option.