In Tennessee, Mascoma LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center have developed a revolutionary strain of yeast that could help significantly accelerate the development of biofuels from nonfood plant matter. The approach could provide a pathway to eventual expansion of biofuels production beyond the current output limited to ethanol derived from corn.
C5 FUEL™, engineered by researchers at Mascoma and BESC, features fermentation and ethanol yields that set a new standard for conversion of biomass sugars from pretreated corn stover — the non-edible portion of corn crops such as the stalk — converting up to 97 percent of the plant sugars into fuel.
Researchers announced that while conventional yeast leaves more than one-third of the biomass sugars unused in the form of xylose, Mascoma’s C5 FUEL™ efficiently converts this xylose into ethanol, and it accomplishes this feat in less than 48 hours. The finding was presented today at the 31st International Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Minneapolis.