Officials with Green Tech America Inc. have announced that they are producing a more efficient way to produce cellulosic ethanol with a new type of yeast. According to a Purdue Research Park press release, the feedstocks involved include: wood chips, grasses and agricultural wastes like corn stalks and wheat straw. The new yeast ferments both glucose and xylose, two major types of sugar recovered from cellulosic biomass. Conventional yeasts ferment only glucose.
The yeast was developed at Purdue University by Nancy Ho (pictured), a research professor in the School of Chemical Engineering, in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and the Energy Center. She also is founder and president of Green Tech America.
Green Tech America, which is based in the Purdue Research Park, also received exclusive license for improvements to the new yeast to be developed by Green Tech. “We licensed the yeast so we can provide it as well as technical assistance to other companies so they can use it for their own cellulosic ethanol production,” Ho said. “We can produce the yeast more cost-effectively. It is similar to how few people will make their own bread at home because it is more convenient and less expensive to buy loaves in the supermarket.”
Ho’s research at Purdue has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research Inc., Environmental Protection Agency and industry sources.