Direvo Industrial Biotechnology: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

May 3, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoDirevo, focuses on the emerging biomass conversion industry, identifying bottlenecks and weaknesses in current industrial processes in this sector. The company develops biology-based solutions and implement those for our partners and customers, which include industrial companies both large and small.

Direvo is developing a portfolio of BluZy products targeting process efficiency, yield and co-product quality. Furthermore, the enzyme technology offers a multitude of other possibilities; Direvo is working on targeting applications in the animal feed and animal health markets.

The Situation

In March, Direvo Industrial Biotechnology GmbH announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent for the optimization of bioethanol production and its co-products based on enzyme technology. With its thirty claims, the US patent 8,962,286 leverages Direvo’s BluZy® products across a range of applications vital to the economics of the bioethanol industry.

The patent describes enzyme-based technologies which are used to improve the economics of biorefineries with an emphasis on ethanol production from corn. “The $50bn US corn-ethanol market has long sought easy-to-implement and cost-efficient technologies to improve the economics of biorefineries” says Jorg Riesmeier, CEO of Direvo. “There are several parts of the process where economics can be improved and this is exactly the place where our BluZy products have a significant impact.”

“At Direvo, we can rely on decades of expertise and know-how complemented by a strong patent portfolio bringing innovation to the market and building successful businesses”, announces Riesmeier.

Major Investors 

TVM Capital,

NRW Bank

Woelbern Invest

3 Top Past Milestones

In March 2013, Direvo Industrial Biotechnology announced that it reached an important milestone in developing a consolidated bioprocess for lactic acid production from lignocellulose. Up until now, there has not been any known consolidated bioprocess for producing lactic acid from lignocellulose. Direvo has now successfully built up a processing chain from pretreatment through fermentation to downstream processing for a consolidated bioprocess for lactic acid.

On the basis of pretreated Miscanthus grass, Direvo fermented lactic acid on pilot scale in a single-step-synthesis. Direvo was further able to show that the important step of downstream processing of free lactic acid in the fermentation matrix can be realized efficiently by standardized procedures. The downstream processing was executed in collaboration with the department of bioengineering of the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering Potsdam-Bornim.

Direvo’s specific, self-isolated proprietary microorganism Caldicellulosiruptor sp. produces the needed enzymes to ferment the pretreated biomass and converts the emerging sugar to end products. In these processes, no cost-intensive technical enzymes have to be added. A further advantage is that these microorganisms are extreme thermophile and therefore high process temperatures don’t cause product losses through contamination with foreign bacteria. On the basis of this proof-of-concept, the next development stage to raise competitiveness in a commercial environment will be to increase the yield of lactic acid.

In March 2013 , Direvo announced the successful closure of a financing round of three and a $4.5 million to fund the sustainable growth of the company. All current major investors participated in this third financing round since the founding of Direvo, a spin-off from Direvo Biotech AG, in the year 2008. The capital will be used to get the platform technologies BluCon® and BluZy® ready for the market.

Future Milestone Goals

– finalize BluZy-D development, launch product in the US

– reduce BluCon-P ethanol cost to parity with $100 barrel crude

– demonstrate lignocellulose to lactate conversion at pilot scale

Competitive Edge:

Direvo deploys its groundbreaking technology platform on the huge opportunity currently being presented by the clean energy, clean chemistry and biomass conversion industries. We apply our profound expertise in bioengineering to provide tailor-made, biology- based solutions for partners in several sectors of the biomass conversion industry.

Research, or Manufacturing Partnerships or Alliances. 

– Iowa State University

– UoG

Project information


Location: Cologne, Germany and Boulder, CO

Materials or products produced

Direvo uses its proprietary technology to provide a biological solution to the grain-to-ethanol industry leading to value-enhanced DDGS (dried distillers grains and solubles). This offers a clear win for both the ethanol plant and the animal producer.

  • • Superior DDGS quality: Enables high inclusion rates in poultry feed
  • • Improved economics: Superior DDGS has a higher market value than standard DDGS
  • • No capital expense: Easy implementation in existing processes
  • • Process stability: Production efficiency can be improved, for example by dewatering, oil separation or evaporation

Feedstock: DDGS

Product Brand Name: BluZy-D

Product Description: BluZy-D is a proprietary enzyme product applied to the fermentation products of the standard dry mill ethanol process. A typical by-product of this process is DDGS, which has become a widely accepted ingredient in livestock and poultry feed. However, the potential value of DDGS in animal feed has not been fully realized due to a variety of reasons. BluZy-D increases the nutritional quality of DDGS and establishes greater access for DDGS to the poultry and hog feed markets.

Product Applications: 

The BluZy-D enzyme blend is directly added after fermentation without disturbing the process itself or any needed for additional capital expenditures. Through the atcion of our proprietary enzymes components are removed of modified. Thereby, we  improve the nutritional quality of  DDGS within the process with no hassle to the producer.

Unique Features (i.e.,what separates this product from the competition, whether bio-based or incumbent fossil-based products – e.g. cost, performance features).

BluZy-D is the only product being applied directly to the grain-to-ethanol process resulting in superior DDGS nutritional quality.

Project information


Location: Cologne, Germany

Materials or products produced

Direvo uses its proprietary technology and rigorous screening methods to create optimal bacteria, which in turn produce the lowest-cost biofuels and chemicals from a broad variety of non-food biomass inputs.

Currently, we are focusing on the production of ethanol and lactate

  • • Low capital expense: simple consolidated process in one vessel
  • • Low operating expense: Direvo’s bacteria contain all the enzymes needed for the conversion of lignocellulose to the desired end products
  • • Feedstock-agnostic: Direvo’s bacteria efficiently convert agricultural residues, energy crops and hardwood
  • • Robust, reliable process: fermentation occurs at above 70 degrees celsius

Status: (Open, Under Construction, Planned)



Grasses, e.g. straw, stover, miscanthus, switchgrass, bagasse

Product information:

Product Brand Name: BluCon-P

Product Description: 

BluCon-P is a portfolio of robust extremophile bacteria capable of fermentation at above 70 degrees C. The BluCon-P bacteria accept diverse sources of pretreated biomass including hardwood, grasses, bagasse and corn cobs. Ethanol and lactate are the primary products. Direvo is improving the competitiveness of its process in three key areas that will allow it to improve BluCon-P to the point where the cost of ethanol is comparable to that of fossil fuel. These areas are metabolic engineering, by which genes in the bacteria are knocked out in order to focus production on the desired end products; process optimization to improve yield; and strain optimization to make the bacteria optimally robust in their industrial environment.

Product Applications: 

Currently, we are focusing on the conversion of grasses to either ethanol or lactate. The BluCon-P portfolio will soon also be capable of converting biomass to hydrogen and organic acids.

Unique Features

The Direvo BluCon-P consolidated bioprocessing approach reduces all relevant process steps for production of fuels and chemicals from pretreated biomass into a single fermentation tank. Enzyme production, cellulose and hemicellulose breakdown as well as conversion of both C6- and C5- sugars, all within one unit operation, make BluCon-P a highly promising approach to overcoming the pitfalls of second generation biofuel commercialization. The high process temperature eliminates contamination risk and enables in-situ capture of volatile products.


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