Trillium awarded SBIR grant from National Science Foundation
Trillium FiberFuels Inc. has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research grant to further its work in developing innovative technologies for creating fuel-grade ethanol from straw and other biomass. This latest award to Trillium from the National Science Foundation supports additional development of a unique enzyme for production of cellulosic ethanol. The value of the award is $150,000 through the end of 2011 and qualifies Trillium to compete for a larger Phase II award in 2012.
Oregon-based Trillium is developing a commercially robust and readily scalable process technology to utilize xylose. Xylose constitutes roughly one third of the available sugar in biomass, so efficient utilization is essential to good process economics. However, xylose is not fermented to ethanol by typical yeast. Under this new grant, Trillium will develop a novel, naturally occurring enzyme to convert xylose into a sugar that is fermentable by brewing yeast. Chris Beatty, Trillium's president, commented that the new award "builds on the feasibility work sponsored by the U.S. DOE and will give us a cost-effective process for feedstocks such as straw from ryegrass and wheat. We are also appreciative of the pioneering work done by the lab of Dr. Stephen Giovannoni at Oregon State University where this microorganism was first isolated and genetically sequenced."