DONG qualifies Royal DSM as cellulosic ethanol enzyme supplier

By Royal DSM | June 05, 2012

Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, has been qualified as supplier of enzymes for DONG Energy-Inbicon's wheat straw to cellulosic ethanol process. The enzymes have been successfully used in the demonstration-scale biorefinery of DONG Energy-Inbicon in Kalundborg, Denmark. The qualification reconfirms the high standard and flexibility of DSM's cocktail of enzymes to break down and convert the cellulose and hemicellulose from the straw fibers into simple C5 and C6 sugars. DONG Energy-Inbicon Biomass Refinery is the world's largest scale cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant that is currently in operation. The plant has a capacity of 1.5 MMgy and produces cellulosic biofuel for Statoil, which is distributed via gasoline stations throughout Denmark.

DSM's enzyme cocktail is particularly effective at breaking down cellulosic biomass to component sugars while having a very high thermal stability. Because of this, the hydrolysis step can be performed at higher temperatures while decreasing the risk of product loss. Higher operating temperatures also increase process speed and ultimately lead to a reduction of the amount of enzyme needed.

DSM's enzymes have been proven in multiple tests at various scales by research institutes and company labs across the globe to work on multiple feedstocks, including corn crop residue, wheat straw, wood chips and sugarcane bagasse. They have also been tested on the full range of pretreatment, from very harsh to relatively mild (as is the case in the Inbicon process), giving supportive evidence to the versatility of the DSM enzyme system. The break down or pretreatment of crop residue is the first phase of the conversion process towards cellulosic ethanol.

DSM selected its enzymes using the biomass as the starting point for the selection process. These are substrates that are expected to be commercially leading in future production of cellulosic ethanol.  

"The DSM enzyme cocktail has performed successfully in the Inbicon process at demonstration scale,” said Jan Larsen, head of R&D Inbicon. “It showed the same high yield as was obtained in pilot scale. This cocktail has both a broad pH range and high temperature tolerance, which make DSM's enzymes very favorable for industrial production of cellulosic bioethanol at high dry matters. The technical reports and analysis from the test program are now finalized and we conclude that the DSM enzymes are now qualified for the Inbicon process."

Stephan Tanda, member of the DSM Managing Board, commented, "We are proud to receive Inbicon's endorsement of our enzymes technology. This additional qualification strengthens DSM's global enzyme position and confirms our drive to being a technology partner for cellulosic bioethanol producing companies across the globe. DSM offers the broadest technology currently available in the market, with high-performing enzymes and yeasts that are able to convert a large variety of biomass into cellulosic ethanol."