Novozymes adds yeast to bioenergy business

Novozymes has revealed its new yeast platform for starch-based ethanol, while also introducing the first product, Innova Drive. A completely new yeast strain, the product can reduce fermentation time by up to two hours compared to current yeasts.

The new yeast is also tougher, continuing to ferment in adverse conditions such as higher organic acids and temperatures. This stress resistance increases ethanol output and reduces operational costs.

“The first product from our yeast platform, Innova Drive is a completely new ride for the ethanol industry. It puts plant operators in the driver’s seat to run fermentations the way they need to,” says Brian Brazeau, Novozymes’ Vice President for Biofuels Commercial. “Yeast is a major bottleneck that requires constant care and attention. Innova Drive is a response to the needs of the ethanol industry, and resets expectations for how tough a yeast can be.”

Recent surveys show that more than half of all ethanol plants face operational upsets, many related to yeast. High heat, infections, organic acids, and throughput limitations are stressors that plague current yeasts, requiring plant personnel to increase antibiotics, reduce inputs such as corn solids, and add more yeast – all contributing to process complexity. This leads to a double-impact of increased costs and lost revenue.

Leveraging unique synergies

Novozymes has used its expertise in enzymes to develop a perfectly matched yeast that delivers higher ethanol yields and reliable performance. The result is a game-changing solution for the industry that sets a new standard for fermentation performance.

During fermentation, Innova Drive produces a novel, higher-performing glucoamylase enzyme. The enzyme is twice as effective as glucoamylases produced by other yeast products in converting sugar into ethanol. And, when ethanol producers pair a specially designed, complementary Novozymes fermentation enzyme with Drive, the combined performance allows producers to maximize ethanol conversion and starch conversion efficiency.

“We are leveraging the synergies of our best-in-class enzymes and new yeast. The enzymes expressed by the yeast, in combination with carefully tailored companion enzyme products, give you a cocktail of enzyme activities that will feed the yeast in an optimal manner throughout fermentation,” says Brazeau. “For an ethanol producer, this means increased efficiency in starch conversion, greater starch conversion, lower residual starch – and, at the end of the day, more ethanol.”

 Innova yeast platform

Yeast strains used in the starch-based ethanol industry have remained largely unchanged for decades. The Innova platform uses a completely new yeast strain not seen before in the ethanol industry and brings novel characteristics, which ethanol producers are asking for. Novozymes can further build upon and tailor these characteristics to meet the specific needs of an ethanol producer.

Innova Drive is Novozymes’ first yeast product, with more to come. The company continues to focus on developing integrated solutions to help ethanol producers improve plant performance with dedicated support and technical service.

 Why is yeast vital for ethanol production?

Yeast converts raw materials into ethanol. Corn goes into the plant and is broken down by enzymes to prepare it for fermentation. During fermentation, yeast is added. The yeast consumes the raw materials and releases ethanol and carbon dioxide. Ethanol producers spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that the right conditions exist for yeast to thrive. The stronger and more efficient the yeast, the better able it is to tolerate production stresses and generate ethanol – improving productivity and profitability.

Innova Drive allows ethanol producers to operate their plants at higher temperatures year-round, to achieve higher production levels. Using a yeast bred to power through heat excursions up to 98°F/~37°C, operators can diminish plant downtime, increase efficiency and output in any season, and potentially decrease cooling costs.

Innova Drive is tolerant to high organic acids, and fermentations will finish even when acid levels rise as high as 0.6 %. This significantly reduces the risk of process upsets and ethanol loss due to lost fermenters – enabling operators to power through infection events.

Innova Drive excels with high dry solids – up to 37 % – with proven resistance to high ethanol levels and during periods of temperature stress.

Ultimately, Innova Drive’s improved stress tolerance leads to more consistent fermentations and more ethanol being produced.


Subscribe to Get the Latest Updates from EOG  Please click here