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The cost of producing bioethanol takes a nosedive

By Gerald Ondrey |

Last month at the National Ethanol Conference at Orlando, Fla., Novozymes’ A/S (Bagsvaerd, Denmark; www.novozymes.com) president and CEO, Steen Riisgaard, launched Cellic CTec2, a new enzyme product enabling the biofuel industry to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price below $2/gal — comparable to the current cost of gasoline and conventional ethanol in the U.S. Cellec CTec2 has a higher potency (a factor of two higher than its predecessor) for breaking down agricultural waste (such as corn cobs and stover and sugarcane bagasse) into fermentable sugars. Compared to existing enzymes, CTec2 can reduce enzyme dosing by 50%, thereby reducing the ethanol production costs by 50¢/gal, says Riisgaard. This eliminates the need — and capital expense — for onsite production of the enzyme at large ethanol plants. Delivery of two truckloads per week is enough for a large-scale ethanol plant, which is comparable to the enzyme-delivery needs at a conventional starch-based ethanol plant, he says. CTec2 is a mixture of more than a handful of different enzymes that work together to break down cellulose into fermentable sugars. The enzymes — both cellulases and hemicellulases — are extracted from various fungi,…
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