The Battle for Yeast Supremacy: DSM, DuPont, Novozymes and more

June 14, 2018 |

FEW, the Fuel Ethanol Workshops, have come and gone for 2018 and the story this year was yeast. Specifically, a war on yield fermentation time, energy use and more. 

Let’s review the big gambits from the likes of DSM, DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Novozymes as they duke it out over market share in an era where corn ethanol gallons are, perhaps for the first time, unlikely to rise much for a while. With that, focus is shifting even more to efficiency and effectiveness. And this in a sector with margins that can be as thin as nanocellulose.

DSM’s eBOOST: consistent increased ethanol yield while significantly reducing

In Nebraska, Royal DSM introduced its eBOOST fermentation solution which in trials with ethanol producers has increased ethanol yields by up to 6% and reducing glycerol formation by up to 50 percent. It’s the latest salvo in a battle for value-creation taking place in yeast at the moment — an almost unprecedented wave of innovation by major companies launching commercially-scaled products in the 9,000 year history of yeast as an industrial product.

 

Developed by DSM’s Bio -based Products & Services business, eBOOST is available in dry and cream forms, is tailored, manufactured and commercially available in the United States. The solution includes yeast; a license to proprietary, patented technology; and technical service from DSM’s local team. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a drop-in replacement, with no special hardware upgrades, no retraining — and we hear that customers like the availability of a dry product.

One such trial took place with Corn Plus, an ethanol plant located in Minnesota, USA, that is owned and supported by more than 600 local shareholders. “In working with DSM, we saw a near 50 percent reduction in glycerol production — this is very significant,” said Mike Jerke, Corn Plus General Manager. “Beyond that, DSM provided a high level of attention to the technical side with people on site to guide us through the process. Having a vendor who is willing to deploy resources in this way is a good thing.”

DSM’s North American business director, Hans van der Sluijs, told the Digest that multiple trials have taken place with US ethanol producers, including both longer and shorter standard fermentation runs, but covered by confidentiality arrangements. He confirmed that up to 75 percent reductions in glycerol reduction could be seen ultimately from this technology, and that the technology has also seen higher than six percent yield gains in some lab tests. “We’re working all the time on innovation across our labs and with our customers,” with an aim at continual improvement in key performance indicators. But he cautioned about projecting specific numbers for productivity enhancement prior to a local trial, noting that “you would see substantial yield improvement, but our years of experience have taught us that that there are many local factors — the water, the climate, for example — that will impact the results.”

DuPont’s XCELIS gambit

In Delaware, building off the recent launch of its fuel ethanol platform DuPont XCELIS, DuPont Industrial Biosciences unveiled the first three products from the innovation hub – designed to increase yields, speed fermentation and reduce energy and chemical consumption.

  • DuPont SYNERXIA THRIVE GX: Next Generation in Yeast for the Fuel Alcohol Industry
  • DuPont DISTILLASE DXT: Advanced Glucoamylase Blend
  • DuPont OPTIMASH AX: Xylanase for Enhanced Liquefaction

So, this product enhancement set was broader than yeast, but yeast remained in the driver’s seat, even in this release. The new XCELIS platform also will feature an online partner community for the industry, GRAIN CHANGERS. This online community and innovative product offerings represent a new age for DuPont’s XCELIS biorefinery team. By improving performance, efficiency and fuel ethanol yields – and working hand-in-hand with customers – XCELIS helps ethanol producers reach their goals with new products, tools and technologies.

Visualization of the Technology

Higher yields, faster fermentation, reduced energy: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to DuPont Industrial Biosciences’ XCELIS platform

Novozymes unveils Innova Drive yeast platform for starch-based ethanol

In February, we reported as Novozymes 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.

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 profiled the technology in Novozymes ignites Yeast Wars with breakthrough new strain, yield gain, time cut, here.

The Bottom Line

2018, it’s a feast for yeast, to say the least, with yields increased.

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