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Posted on  

September 19, 2000

DOE Awards Subcontract to Genencor

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded a one-year, $7-million subcontract to Genencor International.

The subcontract will support research for developing less expensive enzymes that will reduce the cost of converting plant material into fermentable sugars. The enzymes will also remove a key barrier to development of a corn stover-to-bioethanol industry.

By creating less expensive enzymes, fuels, chemicals and other materials derived from renewable biomass could be produced at "biorefineries." Genencor said these enzymes are needed to "unlock the carbon in plants," the way that oil refineries "unlock the carbon in petroleum."

The Genencor research will look to find certain enzymes to convert wood chips, corn stalks and other biomass into ethanol. DOE said that if enzymes needed to convert biomass to ethanol can be purchased for less than 10 cents per gallon of ethanol produced, the cost of making ethanol could drop to 75 cents a gallon.

Part of Genencor's research plan is to find a way to reduce the cost of the enzymes to about five cents per gallon of ethanol produced. President Clinton announced a bioenergy initiative last year that calls for the tripling of bio-based products over the next 10 years.


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