Mascoma Moves Ahead with CBP Development

Mascoma Corporation announced that the company has made research advances in consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), a low-cost processing strategy for production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass.

Multiple research advances were presented by Mascoma’s CTO Dr. Mike Ladisch at the 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in San Francisco to provide proof of concept for CBP. 

The proof of concept includes advances with both bacteria that grow at high temperatures, called thermophiles, and recombinant cellulolytic yeasts such as Thermophilic Bacteria.

  • Production of nearly 6% wt/vol ethanol by an engineered thermophilie, an increase of 60% over what was reported just a year ago
  • The first report of targeted metabolic engineering of a cellulose-fermenting thermophile, Clostridium thermocellum, leading to a reduced production of unwanted organic acid byproducts
  • Selected strains of C. thermocellum that can rapidly consume cellulose with high conversion and no added cellulase, and grow on cellulose in the presence of commercial levels of ethanol
  • 3,000-fold increase in cellulase expression
  • A 2.5-fold reduction in the added cellulase required for conversion of pretreated hardwood to ethanol
  • Complete elimination of added cellulase for conversion of waste paper sludge to ethanol

“This is a true breakthrough that takes us much, much closer to billions of gallons of low cost cellulosic biofuels,” said Michigan State University’s Dr. Bruce Dale, who is also Editor of the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefineries.  “Many had thought that CBP was years or even decades away, but the future just arrived. Mascoma has permanently changed the biofuels landscape from here on.”

In February 2009, Mascoma announced that its pilot facility in Rome, New York had begun producing cellulosic ethanol. The demonstration facility, which was constructed with support from the State of New York through the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, has the flexibility to run on numerous biomass feedstocks including wood chips, tall grasses, corn stover (residual corn stalks) and sugar cane bagasse.

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