World-leading enzyme manufacturer Novozymes has been awarded a USD 12.3m contract from the US Department of Energy to improve the enzymes necessary to produce cellulosic ethanol, also known as second generation bioethanol. Novozymes will invest the same amount itself, bringing the total for the research project to USD 25m, the company writes in a press release.
The Novozymes project Development of a Commercial-Ready Enzyme Application System for Ethanol (DECREASE) aims to improve the performance of the company's most advanced enzyme system to further reduce the cost of cellulosic ethanol production. Under the terms of the 2.5 year contract, Novozymes has committed itself to increase two-fold the efficiency of the enzymes used in the conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol.
Ejner Bech Jensen, president of Novozymes Inc in the US says: "This contract is part of the US government's commitment to the development of alternative fuels, and this latest funding will help Novozymes make cellulosic ethanol economically viable for its commercial implementation partners."
The DECREASE project is being carried out as a global collaboration between Novozymes research facilities in California, China and Denmark and its external partners comprising USA's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Cornell University as well as France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
Headquartered in Bagsværd, a northern suburb of Copenhagen, Novozymes is the world’s largest and most diversified provider of industrial biotechnology, pioneering the replacement of chemicals with enzymes in a broad range of industries such as laundry detergents, animal feed and the biofuel industry. In 2007, the company generated sales of DKK 7.4bn (USD 1.35bn) and a net profit of DKK 1bn (USD 180m). Novozymes employs some 4,500 people, half of whom are based in Denmark.