Verenium Begins Commissioning of Nation's First Cellulosic Ethanol Demonstration-Scale Plant
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Verenium Corporation (Nasdaq: VRNM), a pioneer in the development of next-generation cellulosic ethanol and high-performance specialty enzymes, announced today that it has begun the commissioning phase at its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Jennings, Louisiana.
Start-up activities will continue as the facility transitions into a comprehensive commissioning phase allowing the Company to evaluate its process for making ethanol at scale and validate cost and performance assumptions to prepare for the development of its first series of commercial plants. This phase puts Verenium on track for its goal of beginning construction in the middle of next year on a 30 million-gallon-per-year commercial plant, which will be the first of its kind, located in the southeastern United States.sourceIn a briefing with analysts and investors, Verenium said that it was expecting a production cost of $1.34/gallon for its first-generation technology.
The key element of Celunol’s technology was genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria that can ferment both C6 (hexose) and C5 (pentose) sugars present in cellulosic biomass.
Professor Lonnie Ingram at the University of Florida, from which Celunol licensed its technology, modified the E. coli—which could use both 5- and 6-carbon sugars, but produced very little ethanol, with the ethanol-producing capabilities of Zymomonas mobilis. Z. mobilis is a good ethanol producer that is highly alcohol-resistant, but is also very sensitive to its environment, is not very hardy, and can mostly use only glucose.