The three partners aim to develop a commercial-scale process for producing second-generation bioethanol from one type of plant crop waste: corn stover.

Second-generation bioethanol is expected to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% compared to oil-based fuels. Cellulosic biorefineries will require little or no fossil inputs and are likely to return power to the grid.

Biofuel is the only currently available option to limit CO2 emissions from transport. The transport sector is currently responsible for about 25% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, and its share is rising.

Steen Riisgaard, CEO at Novozymes, says: "With this partnership Novozymes has once again demonstrated its position as the leader in developing enzymes able to convert waste to fuel. This puts us one step closer to being able to produce commercial quantities of bioethanol from agricultural waste. Second-generation bioethanol production in China holds vast potential for Novozymes as the technology leader, and we expect to be the first company with enzymes ready for large-scale production by 2010."

Cooperation with great perspectives

Together, the three partners cover the entire value chain of bioethanol production.

Novozymes, the world leader in industrial enzymes, has developed conversion processes and the state-of-the-art enzymes necessary for turning agricultural waste into second-generation bioethanol.

COFCO, China National Cereals, Oil & Foodstuff Corporation, is a leading producer and supplier of processed agricultural products. COFCO and Novozymes have cooperated for the past two years and as part of that agreement, COFCO runs a small-scale pilot plant that has been in operation for two years. COFCO will continue to operate the pilot plant and contribute its knowledge on grain processing and production of biofuel.

Sinopec is the world's third-largest oil refinery. It owns around 30,000 gasoline stations and has a 60% share in China’s refined-oil market. Sinopec has rich knowledge in petroleum refinery and distribution which will contribute to the three-party collaboration on biofuel roll-out.

Bold ambitions in China

In the coming decade as we approach 2020, the number of cars in China is expected to increase significantly, which will lead to substantial growth in the demand for vehicle fuels. To meet these rising demands the Chinese government has developed an ambitious bioenergy development strategy that will boost the production of biofuels from existing technologies and develop second-generation biofuels.

"The development of sustainable bioethanol in China is of great significance both for the global climate and for China's energy supply," Steen Riisgaard says. "We believe bioethanol is the first step towards a world that is not dependent upon the diminishing oil reserves. We imagine a future where our biological solutions create the necessary balance between better business, a cleaner environment, and better lives."