It seems like major biofuel breakthroughs are coming down the pipeline every day, but cellulosic ethanol start-up Mascoma’s announcement today that it has achieved a breakthrough in consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is the biggest one in a long while.
CBP is a low-cost processing strategy for producing biofuels from cellulosic biomass that uses engineered microorganisms to produce cellulase and ethanol in a single step–bypassing the need to produce to produce expensive cellulase enzymes.Many in the biofuel community thought that CBP was years away. Just last week, NREL research associate Helena Chum described the process as “the golden dream. All of the processes in one super-organism. That would be the lowest cost possible.”
As a result of its advances in CBP, Mascoma claims that it can reduce the cost of cellulosic ethanol processing by 60%, thereby removing one of the biggest roadblocks to making the substance mainstream. The results have thus far only been proven in the lab, but Mascoma plans on testing the discovery soon at its Rome, New York pilot plant.