Genencor, Novozmyes beef up services in Midwest

By Suzanne H. Schmidt | August 04, 2008
Two world leaders in enzyme production—Genencor, A Danisco Division and Novozymes Inc.—are building new facilities in the Midwest. Novozymes is focusing on the corn-based and cellulosic ethanol markets, while Genencor is developing an education center to address questions on fuel-grade ethanol and carbohydrate processing. Although each company has a different focus, both said they are committed to producing enzymes for the United States and are dedicated to renewable energy.

Access to customers and environmental considerations played a role in Novozymes' plans to build an enzyme production facility in Blair, Neb. "We started looking at the entire globe, and considered Latin America and China," said Peder Holk Nielson, executive vice president of Novozymes' enzyme business. The search for a site ended in the United States. "We found that Nebraska had great conditions for both the raw materials for fermentation, starch and soybean meal, and energy at the right price," Nielson said.

The new facility will produce enzymes for corn-based ethanol. Later, Novozymes plans to focus on cellulosic ethanol but is "open to new technologies as we get into the manufacturing of those enzymes," Nielson said. The plant is scheduled to begin operation in 2010 and will produce enough enzymes to supply demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plants. "Now it is a question of whether the demonstration plants will be ready for those enzymes in 2010," Nielson said. "It may be more like 2011."

Other ideal logistics in Blair included railroad and river access, and adequate water supply. The plans to build the plant also signify a sense of permanence in the production of enzymes and the ethanol industry. "We are doing this as a long-term investment," Nielson said. "This plant will sit there for the next 50 years, so take this as a commitment to a
long-term development to bioenergy and biofuels in the Midwest."

Genencor is planning its Center of Excellence in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "The Center of Excellence will be an application and training center, and it will be a place where customers can come in and work on their real-world problems," said Genencor USA media contact Jennifer Hutchins. "It provides them hands-on access to our technology and experts." The building won't address second-generation ethanol.

Genencor's facilities are strategically located within the Corn Belt to be in close proximity to the company's main customers. "This is another step in serving our grain- and carbohydrate-processing customers, and shows dedication to the region and our customers," Hutchins said. The 20,000-square-foot facility will be operational in the spring of 2009.