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Novozymes explores bioethanol from bagasse

Novozymes and Brazilian partner Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (CTC) will develop enzymes enabling the production of bioethanol from sugarcane by-products such as bagasse with €1.6 million support from the European Commission.

The European Commission is supporting the Novozymes project converting sugarcane by-products into bioethanol with a two-year contract aiming to develop a cost-effective technology.

Sugarcane is already used to make bioethanol in Brazil, but the residue material from the crushed sugarcane, bagasse, has so far only been used for generating steam for heating or distillation internally in the sugar production. Every ton of sugarcane results in about 0.3 tons of bagasse.

Steen Skjold-Jørgensen, Vice President for Bioethanol R&D at Novozymes, says: “Novozymes has promised that by 2010 we'll deliver enzymes for the conversion of biomass from agricultural by-products into ethanol for large-scale production. And we're going to keep that promise. We're already well on the way, but with this support from the Commission we'll work towards getting much more from less.”

Research unit in Brazil

In connection with this project, Novozymes is establishing a research unit in Curitiba, Brazil, supported by research colleagues in Denmark, the US and Brazil together with CTC, Lund University in Sweden, and the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil.

Novozymes develops enzymes for both first- and second-generation bioethanol, and has worked to turn agricultural by-products into bioethanol since 2001. CTC is an R&D centre for with more than 40 years working experience in all aspects of sugarcane production and processing.

Last year Brazil produced 6 billion gallons of bioethanol from sugarcane. 1 billion gallons were exported and the remaining 5 billion gallons were used to supply fuel to Brazil’s national transport sector. 90% of new cars in Brazil are flex-fuel cars that can run on fuel mixtures containing up to 100% bioethanol.

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