Big news this week from Novozymes, which launched a new foam control enzyme that can replace chemicals in the sugarcane ethanol fermentation process. But that wasn’t the only innovation making headlines. Here’s your bioenergy news roundup with the details!


Researchers use gene splicing to make breaking down lignin easier

Researchers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have incorporated an exotic gene conferring weak bonds into the plant’s lignin, the compound that gives plant cell walls their sturdiness but makes them difficult to process in an industrial setting. The resulting lignin, dubbed zip-lignin, readily breaks down under simple chemical conditions.

This new study, published Oct. 14 in Science Advances, shows that those poplar trees and many other plants from all over the phylogenetic tree have actually evolved to naturally produce zip-lignin. In other words, not only can we potentially breed for degradability in plants, but humans may have been doing just that—selecting certain plants for easier processing—for thousands of years.

For more on this new study, visit Ethanol Producer Magazine.


Novozymes launches world’s first biological foam control for sugarcane ethanol

Industrial enzyme and microorganism producer Novozymes has launched Fermax, an enzyme protease that prevents foam development during the sugarcane ethanol fermentation process, while delivering improved control and replacing chemicals. For an average size plant, trialing partners also experienced a cost reduction of up to 20% when using Fermax, as compared with use of chemicals.

“This is the first ever biological solution that prevents foam development during the fermentation process, which is a critical issue for producers,” says Daniel Cardinali, Novozymes’ Head of Sugarcane Platform and Biorefining for Latin America.

Foam develops during the fermentation process as the yeast produces ethanol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide creates foam, which can cause overflow of the fermentation tank and lead to production losses. Excessive foaming also forces plants to increase fermentation time and operate at lower capacity.

Visit Novozymes’ website for more information.


Brazil to boost sugar output, ethanol imports next season

Brazil is expected to produce around 2 million tons more sugar and import a high ethanol volume next year as mills tend to allocate more cane to produce the sweetener.

The 2017-18 center-south cane crop should not change much from what is seen for the current season despite the favorable market condition, as an aging cane field and irregular weather cuts next year’s production potential.

Brazil is expected to process a cane crop between 580 million and 610 million tons next year, compared to 597 million tons this current crop. But sugar production will increase as mills expand their capacity to produce 2 million more tons of the sweetener.

For more on this story, visit Customs Today.

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Geoff Hayward

Communications Writer at Novozymes
Geoff writes about Bioenergy for the Communications team at Novozymes. When he isn’t advocating for an industry that’s changing the world for the better, he can be found on a North Carolina bike path or playing slide guitar.