It is getting more difficult everyday for the cellulosic naysayers because the ethanol industry is several steps closer today to producing commercially viable cellulosic ethanol through the research and development efforts of the industry’s largest enzymes producer, Novozymes. Executive Vice President, Peder Holk Nielen, announced during the National Ethanol Conference that their new cellulosic enzyme family, CellicTM, has the best cost/performance ratio seen in the industry so far.
Novozymes has been vocal about its commitment to bringing process improvements and lower enzyme costs to market by 2010. They estimate that with the lower enzymes costs a gallon of cellulosic ethanol can be produced for $2.25 per gallon by 2010, which cuts costs by more than half from only 2 years ago while making it competitive with corn-ethanol.
Nielsen said that that are focusing on big volume biomass like corn stover in the U.S. They are looking at the same in China, as well as researching wheat straw and bagasse in Brazil. When asked if the enzymes will be modified for other feedstocks, Nielsen explained that he believes the main enzyme work horses will remain the same and could possibly be adapated to energy crops –crops low in lignon.
I asked Peder how he felt about Novozymes continued commitment to an industry that is facing great challenges. He replied, “I feel good about it, because I don’t believe oil is going to stay at $38 dollars a barrel, and I believe in the American commitment to building this industry and that’s why we’re also committed to it. That’s always a risk of course. but I think this is the right way for not only America but for the world. Of course its not going to solve all energy problems, but as far as I can see, it is the one and only substitute for vehicle fuels.”
Right now, Nielsen wants the international ethanol industry to know that these enzymes are available to use in pilot plants and eventually, commercial plants. They also have a team that can help their customers with the experimentation.
For more information the Cellic products, visit www.bioenergy.novozymes.com.