Ethanol/Biofuel Green Energy Gets Greener: A New Enzyme Technology Helps to Cut Chemical Use

Editor: Dominik Stephan

A new enzyme could help to boost profits as well as reduce the need for hazardous chemicals at ethanol plants, enzyme technology specialists Novozyme says. The Danish company states that a typical facility could well be able to increase annual returns by up to US $ 2.5 million.

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Enzyme fermentation at Novozymes' pilot plant, in Bagsværd, Denmark
Enzyme fermentation at Novozymes' pilot plant, in Bagsværd, Denmark
(Picture: Novozymes)

Copenhagen/Denmark – Danish enzyme specialist Novozymes launches Avantec Amp, a new enzyme product that improves yield and throughput in corn ethanol production, while increasing corn oil extraction and significantly reducing the need for several harsh chemicals used in ethanol production. By switching from standard enzyme technology to Avantec Amp, a typical ethanol plant with a capacity of 110 million gallons can make up to $2.5 million a year in additional net profits.

“Avantec Amp enables yield improvements and chemical reductions that were previously impossible,” says Peter Halling, Vice President – Biofuel, at Novozymes. “It will boost our customers’ bottom line and give them flexibility to adjust their various revenue streams based on market conditions. Ultimately, it will give them a competitive advantage in a challenging market.”

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Simpler and More Profitable, with Fewer Chemicals

Avantec Amp continues the success of the original Avantec, introduced in 2012, by adding significant new benefits. It combines multiple enzyme activities into one product, and surpasses competing enzyme solutions by squeezing more ethanol from each kernel of corn and enabling increased output from the ethanol plant, thus saving energy and water and increasing return on invested capital. It can also boost corn oil production, an increasingly important revenue stream in the industry, by freeing up oil bound in the corn germ.

In addition, Avantec Amp reduces the need for a number of chemicals used to control and accelerate production processes at ethanol plants. Urea, which is used to improve the fermentation of ethanol, can be cut by more than 70%. Surfactants and ammonia, used to extract corn oil and adjust pH levels, can also be significantly reduced. Avantec Amp is the first enzyme product to replace urea and surfactants.

“By replacing these chemicals with enzymes you get greater safety for workers and lower costs,” says Peter Halling. “When you simplify the recipe, you reduce the risk of errors associated with handling multiple different compounds and you also have less need for storage.”