Genencor, USDA continue barley-to-ethanol research

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 12, 2008 at 10:19 a.m. CST

Enzyme developer Genencor, a division of Danisco AS, has extended its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the USDA's Eastern Regional Research Center to continue development of an economically viable process for converting barley into ethanol.

Winter barley is being developed as an ethanol feedstock for the Southeast and western regions of the U.S. where barley can provide a winter cover crop, and ethanol yields similar to corn, without competing with traditional summer crops.

"We have already made significant progress through our collaborative research with ERRC, including using enzymes to break down beta-glucans in barley to increase ethanol yield," said Glenn Nedwin, executive vice president for technical enzymes for Genencor. "In this next phase, we will tackle the remaining challenges to develop an efficient, cost-effective process and bring it to commercial scale." Potential for the technology extends beyond the U.S. to other regions, such as Europe, where barley is used as a feedstock.

In the two-year research extension, Genencor will continue to provide scientific expertise and in-house resources to the ERRC collaboration, and will also contribute $100,000 to the project. The researchers are using superior breeds of barley with high starch content, which were developed by ERRC and Virginia Tech for ethanol production.