DuPont Outlines Biofuels Strategy

Two DuPont research leaders provided an update on the company's strategy to develop next generation biofuels at the third annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing.

DuPont biofuels research manager William D. Provine discussed the company's biofuels strategy during the conference's Friday morning plenary session. DuPont Bio-Based Technologies vice president John Pierce reviewed current global biofuels issues and the future of cellulosic ethanol as a replacement for gasoline transportation fuel.

"The biofuels market is ripe for innovation," Provine said. "DuPont's integration of modern biological tools into our world-renowned chemistry and engineering has allowed us to become technology leaders in the development of bio-based chemicals and now fuels. We have a three-part strategy to deliver new technologies to the growing biofuels market to help biofuels become more competitive with petroleum. It entails: (1) improving existing ethanol production through differentiated agricultural seed products and crop protection chemicals; (2) developing and supplying new technologies to allow conversion of cellulose to biofuels; and (3) developing and supplying next generation biofuels with improved performance."

Seed & Crop Protection Solutions: With more than $300 million in revenues expected this year from seed and crop protection solutions, DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. has selected more than 135 seed hybrids marketed through its IndustrySelect(R) program. The program brings specialized grain traits that improve the efficiency of ethanol production. The seed and crop protection research pipeline includes yield traits in seeds and other products that will further improve ethanol production efficiency.

Integrated Corn-Based BioRefinery (Cellulosic Fuels): DuPont and the U.S. Department of Energy are jointly funding a four-year research program to develop technology to convert corn stover into ethanol. This is consistent with the company's strategy to develop technologies that can convert energy crops such as grasses, and agricultural byproducts such as straw and corn stalks, into biofuels and biochemicals. The Integrated BioRefinery program will significantly increase the amount of ethanol per acre achievable by using corn grain and stover on the same amount of land. The technology package will be complete next year, and the company is currently developing options for the construction of a demonstration plant. Provine outlined the "first in class" fermentation process that DuPont has developed in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to allow high conversion of both C-6 glucose sugars and the difficult to ferment C-5 xylose sugars to ethanol at high yields. The BioRefinery technology uses a microorganism called Zymomonas mobilis to make these conversions. This organism is found in the tropics where it normally lives in the sugar sap of the agave plant, a plant that is commonly used to make tequila.

Biobutanol Partnership with BP and Advanced Biofuels Pipeline: DuPont's partnership with BP to develop biobutanol is based on its strategy to bring advanced biofuels to market to expand the use of biofuels in gasoline. Biobutanol will be the first product available and offers improved performance. It enhances ethanol-gasoline blends by lowering the vapor pressure when co-blended with these fuels; it enhances fuel stability of biobutanol-gasoline blends, giving it the potential to be distributed via the existing fuel supply infrastructure; it improves blend flexibility allowing higher biofuels blends with gasoline; and it improves fuel efficiency (better miles per gallon) compared to incumbent biofuels. Biobutanol is targeted for introduction in 2007 in the United Kingdom. Additional global capacity will be introduced as market conditions dictate. and

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type