Mascoma Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/6519-547) has raised $30 million in its second round of Venture funding — led by General Catalyst Partners (Cambridge, Mass.) — to further develop a new way to make bioethanol from cellulose. Mascoma aims to reduce the number of biologically mediated steps involved in ethanol production from four — cellulase production, cellulose hydrolysis, hexose fermentation and pentose fermentation — to one. This strategy, known as consolidated bioprocessing, involves the genetic engineering of thermophilic ethanol-producing bacteria.
The company has licensed technology initiated in the laboratory of Lee Lynd, professor at the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/6519-548) and co-founder of Mascoma. The lead organism, Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum, has recently been modified and shown to be able to produce stoichiometric quantities of ethanol from a xylose feed.