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France’s Deinove develops bacteria for use in bioethanol

19 Sep 2012 16:38 (+01:00 GMT)
France's Deinove develops bacteria for use in bioethanol

Perpignan, 19 September (Argus) — French biotechnology company Deinove has created a new strain of bacteria that can transform cellulose directly into bioethanol. The successful completion of tests means the project will now be scaled up with the help of French state subsidy and partner farming co-operative Tereos.

Deinove's proprietary Deinococcus bacteria passed laboratory tests producing ethanol from wheat and wheat waste. The properties of the bacteria mean the feedstock does not need a secondary distillation or refining process to produce bioethanol. And it also does not need the addition of other compounds such as yeasts or enzymes. Instead, the bacteria and feedstock are heated to between 40-60°C which can transform both cellulose and hemicellulose, including a wide variety of food and agricultural waste products.

The latest announcement would trigger an additional payment from the French energy ministry's strategic industrial innovation (ISI) programme of €1.15mn ($1.5mn). ISI has pledged €8.9mn to Deinove upon completion of various levels of the project, and has so far disbursed €4.5mn. The company said it has enough funds to run its research and development programme into 2014, if further payments from the ISI come as expected. Deinove made a half-year loss of €1.4mn to the end of June 2012.

Tereos will work alongside Deinove on the next stage of the project, a laboratory pilot scheme producing bioethanol in the range of hundreds of litres. If that step proves a success Tereos will industrialise the process, most likely at its Benp plant in Lillebonne. Benp produces around 5,200 b/d of bioethanol out of a company total of around 11,500 b/d produced across four sites in France.

The success of the tests come as the EU prepares to cap the amount of first generation biofuels in its 2020 renewable fuel targets, likely to just 5pc from a maximum of 10pc. Changes to legislation may also include quadruple counting of biofuels from waste, with presentations to the EU parliament possible as early as mid-October.

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