Wisconsin awards $600,000 for ethanol research

By Ryan C. Christiansen | September 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 22, 2008 at 11:03 a.m. CST

Two Wisconsin-based companies have been awarded a total of $600,000 from the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund to develop technologies related to producing ethanol.

C5-6 Technologies Inc. in Middleton, Wis., has been awarded $350,000 to develop a group of new enzymes that will help to increase ethanol yields in first-generation corn ethanol plants. The funding will help the company to focus on isolating and commercializing a series of thermostable enzymes that can be used in dry milling of corn for ethanol production, according to John Biondi, a spokesman for C5-6. The company is working to improve the current corn dry-mill process by developing enzymes that will recover more starch from ground corn than current enzymes.

Great Lakes Ag Energy LLC in Madison, Wis., has been awarded $250,000 to perfect a pretreatment process for producing cellulosic ethanol. According to H. Tony Hartmann, chief executive officer for Great Lakes Ag Energy, the company is collaborating with a former Madison, Wis.-based USDA Forest Products Laboratory chemical engineer. He declined to name the individual, but said the engineer has a background in paper chemistry and is looking at developing a mild temperature pretreatment process for biomass. The Forest Service's Madison, Wis., lab hosts the Institute for Microbial and Biochemical Technology which uses basic and applied research to explore the potential use of biotechnology for converting wood into other useful products. The institute's explorations include improving processing and fermentation technology to convert low-grade lignocellulosic materials into fuels and chemicals.