Advanced Biofuels

Green Tech America Licenses Yeast Technology to COFCO Corp. and Novozymes for Cellulosic Ethanol Production in China

Date Posted: May 27, 2010

West Layayette, IN—An American company has signed a three-way partnership license agreement with firms in China and Denmark that allows them to use a patented yeast product to produce cellulosic ethanol in their pilot and production facilities.

Officials from the Purdue Research Park-based company Green Tech America Inc. signed an agreement to permit China's COFCO Corp. and Denmark's Novozymes A/S to use the yeast developed by Purdue researchers, led by Nancy W. Y. Ho, to produce cellulosic ethanol in their plants in China.

The public signing of the agreement took place Wednesday (May 26) at the China-U.S. Advanced Biofuel Forum in Beijing.

"This is Green Tech America's first international licensing agreement," said Ho, the company's founder and president.

"COFCO and Novozymes have proven records in developing the processes for the production of cellulosic ethanol, and we are very glad to partner with them in providing our yeast for their production of cellulosic ethanol."

The yeast, known as the Ho-Purdue yeast, produces ethanol from cellulosic materials, including wood chips, grasses and agricultural wastes like corn stalks, more efficiently than conventional yeasts.

It ferments glucose and xylose, two major types of sugar recovered from cellulosic biomass. Conventional yeasts ferment only glucose.

Ho is a research professor in Purdue's School of Chemical Engineering and also is affiliated with its Energy Center.

She began cellulosic ethanol research in 1980 in Purdue's Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering.

The China-U.S. Advanced Biofuel Forum is hosted by the National Energy Administration of the People's Republic of China and the U.S. departments of Energy and Agriculture.

The signing of the agreement was part of the forum's official agenda.

Ho and Gerard Benner, Green Tech America's vice president of finance, represented GTA at the event.

"The invitation for signing the agreement at the China-U.S. Advanced Biofuel Forum symbolizes the determination of both governments in supporting the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol as a renewable biofuel for transportation," Benner said.

"For COFCO and Novozymes to forge a partnership for cellulosic ethanol production and to license the Ho-Purdue yeast at such a public event is their way to announce to the world that they are determined to produce cellulosic ethanol in China. It also confirms their belief that the Ho-Purdue yeast is the best option for such production."

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