Diversa Corporation (Nasdaq: DVSA) and Valley Research, inc. announced today the receipt of regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine for Ultra-Thin™ enzyme, a new product designed to significantly improve the efficiency and economics of ethanol production from corn and other starch sources.
Developed by Diversa and marketed under the Ultra-Thin label by Valley Research, this new product dramatically lowers the viscosity of the corn starch stream and operates at high temperature and at a lower pH than other commercially available enzymes, all of which offers ethanol producers the potential for substantial throughput advantages and cost savings.
Ultra-Thin enzyme is a novel, next-generation alpha amylase enzyme designed to offer ethanol producers superior liquefaction performance. It works in concert with other enzymes to efficiently convert the starch present in corn and other sources, into sugars that can then be processed into ethanol or other value-added products such as corn sweeteners.
Ethanol producers have traditionally used other alpha amylase enzymes that do not significantly reduce the starch stream viscosity and do not operate at an optimal pH, limiting plant capacity and requiring costly process adjustments. Ultra-Thin enzyme is being distributed by Valley Research for fuel ethanol and sweetener applications. Diversa manufactures Ultra-Thin enzyme under its agreement with Fermic S.A. de C.V.
“We look forward to expanding the marketing of Ultra-Thin enzyme to ethanol producers throughout the U.S., particularly those whose mills stand to benefit most from the significantly higher throughput that can potentially be achieved by switching to this superior product,” stated Art Sears, President of Valley Research.
“Diversa has identified alternative fuels as a significant focus area, and Ultra-Thin is the first of what we hope will be several significant enzyme products for this rapidly growing industry,” said Edward T. Shonsey, Diversa’s Chief Executive Officer.
“We believe Diversa’s ability to discover and optimize new enzymes with differentiated features, like Ultra-Thin enzyme, has the potential to transform the ethanol industry. Beyond Ultra-Thin enzyme, Diversa is working on longer-term programs to develop more cost-effective processes for producing ethanol, including so-called ‘cellulosic ethanol’ from biomass.”
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the U.S. ethanol industry produced a record 4 billion gallons in 2005, representing an increase of 17% from 2004 and 126% since 2001. In addition to the 95 existing ethanol plants located in 19 states, at the end of 2005, 29 ethanol refineries and nine expansions were under construction with a combined annual capacity of more than 1.5 billion gallons.
(Cf. news of June 30, 2005.)
Source: Diversa Pressrelease Feb. 27, 2006.