13 September 2012

World First: A DEINOVE Bacteria transforms biomass into 2nd generation bioethanol

This breakthrough using Deinococcus could be the solution to a global issue: replacing fossil fuel with a fuel from nonfood biomass

DEINOVE announced that its R&D team and its partners in the DEINOL program isolated and optimized a strain of Deinococcus bacteria able to generate ethanol from wheat-based biomass. With production of an alcohol content of more than 3%, DEINOL exceeded its goal for this proof of concept milestone.

DEINOVE’s Deinococcus bacteria can degrade complex biomass residues into simple sugars and convert them into ethanol, all in a single process and without additives (such as enzymes, yeast or antibiotics).

This successful milestone triggers the payment of 1.15 million Euros to DEINOVE by the French ministry of industry (OSEO, ISI – Industrial Strategic Innovation – program).

The total amount paid to date by OSEO to DEINOVE and its partners is 4.5 million Euros out of a total 8.9 million Euros granted for this project.
While bioethanol production is currently limited to food biomass and utilizes archaic methods based on multiple stage and fermentation using yeast, this “all-in-one” bacterial factory, developed by DEINOVE, should make possible the use of non-food biomass (agricultural waste, plant biomass…) using more efficient, cost-effective and cleaner processes.

“Our results confirm the value of the DEINOVE technology for transforming biomass into biofuels and industrial products. DEINOVE’s teams and our partners are proud of this breakthrough. Deinococcus can degrade more than 80% of the plant biomass but can also potentially produce industrial quantities of bioethanol”, stated DEINOVE’s CEO Jacques Biton. He added: “We are now entering the pre-industrial phase of the DEINOL project.”

“Second generation bioethanol is everyone’s goal that is still waiting for its manufacturing standard”, pointed out Philippe Pouletty, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of DEINOVE. “DEINOL’s results show that DEINOVE and its first industrial partner TEREOS are at the forefront of this global race for a bioethanol manufacturing standard, vital for the future of our planet.”

Partners of the DEINOL project
DEINOVE is the lead company in a project involving the sugar group TEREOS and its subsidiary BENP Lillebonne (French leader and the second European producer of bioethanol), together with two academic laboratories: CPBS (CNRS-Université Montpellier 1) and LISBP (INSA Toulouse /CNRS/INRA).

DEINOL: a major technical breakthrough
By dramatically improving the economic and ecological performance of their facilities, the DEINOL solution should provide industrial companies of the cellulosic bioethanol sector many competitive advantages:

A stable and reproducible process: once in the fermenter, the bacteria retain their properties because their genome remains stable due to their intrinsic properties but also by the DEINOVE approach, which aims to guide nature rather than change it. With their great robustness, the bacteria also tolerate the physical and chemical stress they may encounter during industrial processes.

A high temperature process: the bacterial strain is capable of converting biomass between 40 and 60°C. These temperatures are inaccessible to the current processes that work at 35°C and require cooling, high cost reactors and the prevention of microbial contamination that occur at these temperatures using antibiotics.

An all-in-one: the Deinococcus multifunctional strain is optimized, ensuring the successive 1/degradation of different components rich in sugar and carbon of the plant biomass and 2/fermentation without additives.

Open solution: Beyond starch, Deinococcus DEINOVE bacteria are currently able to digest cellulose and hemicellulose, paving the way for the widespread use of non-food biomass.

A simple and rational implementation: the method can be implemented on existing industrial plants without major new investment.

Starting the pilot laboratory
The achievement of this latest milestone marks the beginning of the “pilot laboratory” phase in which experiments will be conducted in DEINOVE laboratories to a scale of a few hundred liters. This new phase will be conducted by DEINOVE in close collaboration with TEREOS and is currently the subject of extensive consultation between the partners in order to optimize the process. The completion of the pilot laboratory phase will trigger a further payment from OSEO.
TEREOS will then take over from DEINOVE and validate the process on an industrial scale in one of their plants in operation.

About OSEO’s Industrial & Strategic Innovation (ISI) program
The Strategic Industrial Innovation Program (ISI) promotes the emergence of European champions. It supports innovative and ambitious collaborative projects for industrial purposes, driven by mid-sized companies and SMEs, all advancing state-of-the-art technologies. When successful, these projects have a very promising outcome, as they aim at commercializing the innovations arising from technological breakthroughs, which would not be otherwise carried out without public funding.
Funds are allocated in the form of grants and loans, ranging from 3 to 10 million Euros.

About DEINOVE
DEINOVE is a green biotechnology company that designs and develops new production systems based on bacteria with untapped potential:
Deinococci. Based on their unique genetic properties and unusual sturdiness, DEINOVE optimizes the metabolic capabilities of these natural “mini-factories” to produce a “virtually unlimited” palette of compounds: 2nd generation biofuels, green chemicals, new antibiotics…

At a time when the post-oil era is looming and where industrial production of edible corn is in jeopardy, DEINOVE has placed a priority on the development of cellulosic bioethanol, a future market where its all-in-one production process could quickly become a technological standard.
To broaden access to its innovations, the Company has chosen to optimize the value of its processes by granting non-exclusive licenses to industrial partners. For its most advanced project, DEINOL, the Company has entered into a partnership with TEREOS, the French sugar leader and 2nd European manufacturer of bioethanol. Supported by OSEO to the extent of 8.9 million Euros, DEINOL intends for the first time to transform plant residues into ethanol in a single step process using a multifunctional, naturally optimized bacterial strain. After recently establishing proof of this innovative concept, DEINOVE initiated the implementation of the pilot laboratory. As of 2014, TEREOS will be responsible for scale validation in one of its factories.

Listed on Alternext since April 2010, DEINOVE was founded by Dr. Philippe Pouletty of Truffle Capital and Professor Miroslav Radman, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université René Descartes. It has a workforce of 30 people and conducts R&D programs in partnership with the CNRS (Marseille and Montpellier), INSA (Toulouse) and the VTT (Finland). The company headquarters is in Paris and its laboratories are located in the Cap Alpha Technology Park in Montpellier.

Source: DEINOVE, press release, 2012-09-13.

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