Bioethanol technology validated at Berkeley Lab

Microvi Biotechnologies, an innovator of biocatalytic processes, working with the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has demonstrated improvements to biological ethanol production.

Microvi's technology uses engineered biocatalyst composites which have been synthetically designed to alleviate ethanol toxicity on the cells which produce it, induce higher feedstock conversion yields and efficiencies, and enable robust and repeatable continuous fermentation. The technology, which is now commercially available, is also designed to limit microbial contaminants in the production process.

In the first phase of the Microvi-ABPDU collaboration, Microvi's biocatalytic technology was compared with a conventional yeast ethanol production (control) system run in parallel, at bench scale, at the ABPDU. The investigation showed that even under non-optimined conditions, the Microvi technology achieved higher performance values than the control system.

A preliminary techno-economic evaluation by Microvi indicates that the combined impact of higher productivity, increased titers, and near complete conversion of feedstock to ethanol represents a strong case for cost reduction by ethanol and bio-based chemical producers.

'The type of technology represented by this new biocatalytic process could play a key role in improving ethanol production economics and scaling using traditional first generation feedstocks as well as leveraging second generation non-food energy crops and agricultural residue,' says Todd Pray, program head at the ABPDU.