Novozymes Achieves Cellulosic Enzyme Breakthrough

Each day, cellulosic gets closer to becoming commercially viable in the marketplace. Two weeks ago, a major hurdle was overcome with the announcement that Novozymes’ enzyme Cellic® CTec2, used for cellulosic ethanol production with feedstocks such as corn stover and corn cobs, is now 50 cents per gallon. I had the opportunity to learn more about this breakthrough when I sat down with Thomas Videbaek, Executive President of Novozymes BioBusiness, at Commodity Classic.

Videbaek explained that Cellic is the first commercial product for cellulosic ethanol. With Cellic, you’ll be able to produce cellulosic ethanol using an enzyme cost of about 50 cents per gallon. “With this, we think that the enzyme part of producing cellulosic ethanol has been cracked,” said Videbaek. “Now we need to get out and starting producing it and we’re really, really excited about that.”

Novozymes is a partner with POET’s Project Liberty which will produce ethanol from corn cobs. I asked Videbaek for an update and he believes that with the enzyme breakthrough they will be able to produce cellulosic ethanol for around $2.35 per gallon. However, the expectation is that once Project Liberty is up and running, the cost will be reduced to around $1.90 per gallon. This will be monumental in that it will break the $2.00 per gallon barrier challenge of producing cellulosic ethanol.

This was a massive project for Novozymes who has been working on it for more than five years. “It’s the biggest project we’ve ever carried out,” said Videbaek. There were more than 150 people working on it in the past year alone.

In addition to corn stover and cobs as a feedstock, they are also working with wheat in Europe and have an operational pilot plant in Denmark. In addition, they are working with Brazilian ethanol producers to develop an enzyme to break down the bagasse.

You can learn more about Cellic by listening to my full interview with Thomas below.