The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Novozymes an award of up to $2.5 million to find new and more efficient enzymes for turning corn stover into fuel for cars and trucks. The specific project that was awarded funds by the DOE is called ‘SynTec,’ and is a two-year collaborative project between Novozymes and MBI. The companies will screen natural enzyme diversity for the best performing enzymes. Each enzyme combination will then be tested on pretreated agricultural waste that can first be converted into sugars and then into bio-based products and advanced biofuels.
According to Novozymes, many chemical-based industrial processes have inherent drawbacks from a commercial and environmental point of view. These drawbacks can be nearly eliminated with enzymes:
- Enzymes can be used in mild conditions such as moderate temperatures and pH levels.
- Only small amounts of enzymes are needed in order to carry out chemical reactions on an industrial scale.
- Enzymes reduce the impact of manufacturing on the environment by reducing the use of chemicals, water and energy, and the subsequent generation of waste.
Novozymes’ work will support DOE’s focus on research, development and demonstration efforts to achieve affordable, scalable and sustainable advanced biofuels. According to the company, it has already reduced the cost of enzyme production for biofuels by 90 percent. Once the new screening process is proven, it can be used to rapidly develop tailored cost-effective enzyme solutions for specific industrial biorefineries. This is the third time Novozymes has partnered with the D.O.E. for bioenergy enzyme development.