Enzyme Partners for Biorefinery Project

Genencor International has been named by Cargill Dow as its development partner to create advanced enzyme systems for a biomass project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Genencor said the project would be a significant step toward advancing the biorefinery concept to ultimately reduce dependence on fossil carbon sources, lower greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate rural economies.

Palo Alto, California – September 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “This collaboration strives to make an important contribution to integrating the production of biomass-derived fuels, power, chemicals and other products,” said Jean-Jacques Bienaime, Genencor President and CEO. Advancing the commercialization of biorefineries has been a stated goal of the U.S. Department of Energy for a number of years. To take best advantage of their commercial potential, biorefineries must be able to use the non-food portions of food crops and other low-cost biomass to produce fuel and chemicals, just as an oil refinery uses fossil fuel to produce a wide range of products. The Cargill Dow project will use corn stalks and other agricultural materials as a source of renewable carbon for the production of lactic acid and biologically derived plastics. “The main stumbling block to the development of commercial biorefineries has been the availability of low-cost sugars,” said Thomas J. Pekich, group vice president, Bioproducts, of Genencor. “Our progress in solving this tough technical problem has been steady and is now ready to be deployed on a pilot scale.” Genencor will leverage its enzyme expertise developed during a three-year, US$17 million biomass-to-ethanol program with the DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Genencor announced in April it met and exceeded the project’s goal of developing a new generation of enzyme systems that could economically convert low-cost biomass (e.g., corn stover, wheat, rice straw, sugar cane bagasse) into fermentable sugars for conversion into bioethanol and other chemicals. “Our mission is to turn annually renewable resources into consumer products with minimal impact on the environment,” said Pat Gruber, vice president and chief technology officer for Cargill Dow.
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