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Petrobras and Novozymes Partner on Cellulosic Ethanol

published: 2010-10-18 16:08

Petrobras and Novozymes have entered an agreement to develop a new route to produce second generation biofuel from sugarcane bagasse. The agreement covers the development of enzymes and production processes to produce second generation lignocellulosic ethanol from bagasse in an enzymatic process.

The commercial potential of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil is substantial due to the great amount of sugarcane bagasse, a fibrous residue of sugarcane production, available in the country. Brazil is the world’s largest sugarcane producer with an extraction capacity of approximately 600 million tons per year, currently yielding 27 billion liters (7 billion gallons) of ethanol. It is estimated that bagasse-to-ethanol technology can increase the country’s ethanol production by some 40% without having to increase the crop area.

Novozymes is already carrying out research on enzymes to convert bagasse to cellulosic ethanol in order to make the process commercially viable. Enzymes break down plant waste such as corn stover, wheat straw, wood chips, and sugarcane bagasse, which is then fermented to produce ethanol.

Since 2006 Petrobras has been carrying out research on integrated biochemical processes for converting sugarcane bagasse to ethanol.

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