The new enzyme solutions launched today are aimed especially at bioethanol producers in Europe, where production of wheat, barley and rye is high. There has already been an interest in the new solutions, which offer both financial and environmental benefits.
Bioethanol (also known as fuel ethanol) as a substitute for gasoline in cars is already big business in the USA for both farmers and the companies that produce it for the gas stations, but here bioethanol is derived mainly from corn, which is easier to use for ethanol production. The European bioethanol market is still not as significant as in the US - but a development in the European market can be supported by these improved enzymes designed specifically for the major European grain varieties.
"The production of bioethanol from crops is becoming more and more relevant as the price of crude oil rises," says Humphrey Lau, director of Grain Processing at Novozymes.
Environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline
Novozymes' efficient new enzymes Viscozyme® Wheat, Viscozyme® Barley and Viscozyme® Rye enable more CO2-neutral bioethanol to be produced from wheat, barley and rye than was previously possible. The producer also saves water and energy in the production process, making the new enzymes an environmentally friendly alternative on more than one count.
One key argument for the use of bioethanol is that using a renewable resource like this instead of, or together with, gasoline in cars can help to stretch the world's finite oil resources.
Many major car makers (including Volvo, Ford and SAAB) currently produce special cars which can (also) run on bioethanol, but even ordinary car s currently on the road can run perfectly well on a mixture of gasoline and 10% bioethanol. In Sweden 5% biofuel is already added to regular gasoline to make it more environmentally friendly.
"Good experience from other countries, including the USA, Sweden and Germany, shows that there is a need for political will - e.g. in the form of exemption from CO2 taxes - to start up this kind of industry," says Lau. "Denmark commands a unique position in the world market for the enzymes needed for bioethanol production."
The new enzymes break down components of the grain which would otherwise result in a thick consistency. This saves producers the amount of water and energy that would otherwise be required to dilute and handle the mash. A thinner mash also makes life easier for the enzymes in the next stage of the process, which break the material down into sugars for fermentation into ethanol (alcohol). The resulting CO2-neutral fuel can then be poured into gas tanks either neat or mixed with gasoline.
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