Next-generation biofuels. Game changing Fuel and Feed bio-refineries

Next-generation biofuels

Author: Geoff Bell, CEO, Microbiogen

As the global combat against climate change continues, it is becoming increasingly evident that no single measure will be sufficient to overcome this widespread problem. All sustainability approaches at our disposal need to be deployed simultaneously if we want to mediate the negative effects of climate change. One such approach is to displace non-renewable fossil fuels with renewable fuels, e.g. bioethanol.

Until recently, two key challenges were associated with the sustainable production of bioethanol:

  1. The manufacture of first-generation biofuels (1G biofuels, produced from food) is economical, but can affect food supplies to humans and animals.
  2. While the production of second-generation biofuels (2G biofuels, produced from non-food biomass) does not compete with food supplies, it is costly.

To address these issues, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supported a Sydney-based industrial biotech company, MicroBioGen, by contributing half of A$8M in research funding over 3.5 years to optimise a solution for the efficient and sustainable production of bioethanol.

This project was successfully completed in April 2021. Key achievements include:

  • The successful optimisation of a yeast biocatalyst that can economically and sustainable turn waste biomass into fuel, with high protein food as a high value by-product.
    • On average, the MicroBioGen optimised biocatalyst achieved between 97% and 99% of the Technical Success Criteria (TSCs) that were set under the project guidelines.
    • In contrast, the leading commercial biocatalyst still in use today achieved an average of only 66 – 83% of the TSCs.
  • Incorporation of high-protein feed as a primary product.
    • In a world first, the new genetics incorporated by MicroBioGen allow both the liberated sugars to be converted ethanol AND convert the low value, unwanted waste streams to high protein feed – using one biocatalyst. Implications are significant.
  • Compared to state-of-the-art commercial biocatalysts, the new MicroBioGen biocatalyst achieves:
    • Estimated 25% lower cost to produce bioethanol
    • 29% reduction in CO2 emissions
    • >10% reduction in fossil energy use
    • 130,000 tonnes of high value, high concentration single cell protein would be produced for the animal feed market if sugar cane bagasse were converted to biofuels in Australia.

NCTCE 2022 – Next generation biofuels. Game changing fuel and feed bio-refineries

In his conference presentation, MicroBioGen CEO Geoff Bell will explain how this ARENA funded programme took the world’s best 2G biocatalyst and optimised it. Geoff will also discuss the project’s sustainability implications with respect to the future of biofuels and food security.

Key Presentation Takeaways

  1. Significant breakthrough achieved in Gen II biofuels
  2. Single biocatalyst now capable of producing fuel and food
  3. 29% reduction in CO2 emissions and food produced from non-food biomass replaces land for food crops

About Geoff:

Leading MicroBioGen as CEO since 2006, Geoff has been instrumental in transforming the company from a small, pure research group into an international commercial success for bioethanol production – winning the Australian Export Award in 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University. Geoff was a Senior Analyst at two high profile investment banks: Prudential-Bache Securities and BNP Paribas Equities. At BNP Paribas Equities, Geoff went on to become the Head of Global Mining, Head of Australian Research, and Head of Company Research for the Asia Pacific Region. Geoff was the top-rated analyst in his field for over a decade and he won several industry accolades. He also serves as the Australian leader for the IEA Task 42 programme; a position he has held since 2014.

Join Geoff Bell at NCTCE 2022 in Brisbane

The 2022 program will focus on the crucial role Cleantech will play in the economic recovery and achievement of a net-zero future. The two-day, multistream program will be delivered both in-person and live-streamed.

Hear from our speakers who will discuss innovative strategies and solutions for businesses to make the move to clean technology for a sustainability and long-term business growth.

Register now.

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