Fuel from straw

Oil-giant Shell has expanded its relationship with Codexis to develop biocatalysts that could accelerate the commercialisation of next-generation biofuels.


Oil-giant Shell has expanded its relationship with Codexis to develop better biocatalysts that could accelerate the commercialisation of next-generation biofuels.


Shell also increased its equity stake in the Redwood City, California-based company, and will take an additional seat on the company’s board.


As part of the agreement, Codexis will work with Shell and Iogen Energy, an Ottawa, Ontario-based company with which Shell has also formed a commercial alliance, to enhance the efficiency of biocatalysts used in Iogen’s cellulosic ethanol production process.


Iogen’s demonstration plant in Ottawa, Canada, currently produces hundreds of thousands of litres of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residue.


Last September Iogen shipped the first 100,000 litres of an initial 180,000 litre cellulosic ethanol order to Shell; this was produced from wheat straw at the demonstration facility.


Shell’s research programme with Codexis aims to enhance the Iogen process and shorten the time it will take to bring about a full-scale commercial deployment of the technology.


Iogen’s technology uses biocatalysts to break down the cellulose in agricultural fibre and convert it to sugars, which are then fermented and distilled into ethanol.


Shell and Codexis will continue to collaborate in investigating other biofuels, researching new biocatalysts to convert biomass directly into fuels similar to gasoline and diesel.


Codexis will also expand its research at a centre in the US and at a new centre in Budapest, Hungary.