Dyadic, SEKAB: Enzyme research project concludes in Sweden

By Holly Jessen | September 28, 2012

A four-year research project at a demonstration plant in Sweden has concluded, successfully verifying an enzyme for use in the production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

“Such experiments are essential to show our customers the maturity and scalability of our newly developed lignocellulosic enzymes,” said Jan Wery, research director at Dyadic Netherlands, in a prepared statement. “The enzyme industry is growing rapidly, partly because of the increasing demand for lignocellulosic biofuels, and we are working continuously to offer new, more efficient products at lower prices.”

The enzyme is AlternaFuel CMAX, a trademarked product of Dyadic International Inc., which is headquartered in Jupiter, Fla., and operates a R&D center in the Netherlands. The biotechnology company has patented and proprietary technology to develop, manufacture and sell enzymes and other proteins in the bioenergy, bio-based chemical and other markets. Dyadic and SEKAB-E Technology cooperated on verifying the effectiveness of Dyadic’s enzyme to degrade cellulose into fermentable sugars at SEKAB’s ethanol demo plant in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden.

“The goal for SEKAB E-Technology is to translate the knowledge and experience gained at the plant over the years into commercial ventures,” said Thore Lindgren, executive vice president of SEKAB. “The ethanol demonstration plant is a unique facility and the expertise gathered here allows us to test all the aspects of cellulose degradation in a way that few others can.”

The four-year EU-funded research project was a part of DISCO, a consortium of industrial partners, research institutes and universities from Russia and Europe with the goal of identifying and developing more productive and cost-effective cellulosic ethanol enzymes.

In related news, Dyadic announced Sept. 24 that is had been issued a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent, entitled “Transformation System in the Field of Filamentous Fungal Hosts,” describes the methods of developing, programming and growing the fungal microorganisms that make up the company’s C1 platform technology. The C1 technology enables the manufacture of low-cost enzymes to diverse markets, including biofuels, and was used to produce the enzymes that were verified in Sweden.

Dyadic discovered the fungus in nature 20 years ago in Russia, Mark Emalfarb, Dyadic president and CEO told Ethanol Producer Magazine. Its first intended use was to wash blue jeans, which is, after all, a cellulosic material. The company has spent the last 20 years improving it and thanks to a serendipitous mutation, was able to improve its performance level by 100s of times, he said. Along the way it was discovered that the fungus was ideal for use in producing sugars from biomass, including tolerance to a wide pH range and high temperatures. That, plus advances in genome sequencing, allowed Dyadic to go “from jeans with a ‘j’ to genes with a ‘g’,” he said.

Dyadic has worked with Abengoa BioEnergy scientists to use the C1 technology to develop a specific cellulosic enzyme strain for use at the company’s 25 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant currently under construction in Hugoton, Kansas. Codexis Inc. used Dyadic’s base C1 technology and created its own version of the technology, Emalfarb said. Beyond biofuels, the company is also working with partners in the feed, food and pharmaceutical industries to take what was learned about breaking down cellulose and apply it more broadly.