Researchers develop cellulosic ethanol process

By Susanne Retka Schill | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 25, 2008 at 1:49 p.m. CST

Swedish researchers at Taurus Energy AB, Sekab Group, Chalmers Technical University and Lund University have signed an agreement for development and large-scale implementation of a lignocellulosic ethanol process. The research is based on Taurus Energy's yeast technology for fermentation of both six-carbon and five-carbon sugars. It is financed by the Swedish Energy Authority, ethanol producer Sekab and Taurus Energy.

"Our aim is to be amongst the first in the world to demonstrate a pentose-fermenting technology suitable for efficient commercial production of ethanol based on agriculture and forestry waste," said Lars Welin, president and chief executive officer of Taurus Energy. "Pentose-fermenting yeasts can substantially improve ethanol yield."

Taurus' bench-scale tests will be scaled up at the Sekab pilot plant which has been testing second-generation technology since 2004 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. "Taurus technology is an opportunity to significantly increase the efficiency of ethanol production from raw materials rich in pentose compared with present methods," said Jan Lindstedt, technical director at Sekab. "The yield could be improved up to 40 percent and thereby creating a cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel."

Taurus holds 13 patents on work developed by 22 researchers from eight countries, most of which involve genetic engineering of the common starch-fermenting yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.