New enzyme reduces the cost of cellulosic sugar production for biofuels and bio-based chemicals


codexis in singaporeCodexis, Inc., a developer of engineered enzymes for pharmaceutical, biofuel and chemical production, announced during the World Biofuels Conference in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) the launch of CodeXyme 4 and CodeXyme 4X cellulase enzyme packages for use in producing cellulosic sugar for production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

Codexis’ latest generation of advanced cellulase enzymes, CodeXyme4 for dilute acid pretreatments and CodeXyme 4X for hydrothermal pretreatments, exhibits excellent performance, converting up to 85% of available fermentable sugars at high biomass and low enzyme loads. Combined with high strain productivity using the CodeXporter enzyme production system, this allows for a cost-in-use that the company believes will be among the lowest available once in full-scale commercial production.

“After four years of development using our CodeEvolver directed evolution technology platform, we are proud to announce that our high-performing CodeXyme cellulases are broadly available for the first time,” said John Nicols, Chief Executive Officer of Codexis. “CodeXyme has been tested against other commercially-available cellulases and we have found the performance to be equal or better than alternative enzymes, across various feedstocks and pre-treatment types. We expect CodeXyme cellulase to deliver significant cost savings and yield improvements for industrial-scale production of cellulosic sugars.”

During the past several months, CodeXyme cellulase has been tested on a variety of feedstocks and pre-treatments, including corn stover, corn cobs, sugarcane bagasse, cane straw, wheat straw and rice straw. In all cases, CodeXyme 4 and 4X have been found to convert 75 – 85% of glucan and xylan into C6 and C5 sugars, at 10 – 15g enzyme per kg of glucan. With consistently high sugar conversion, customers are able to convert more sugar into high-value biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

In independent third-party tests with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado and Chemical Engineering Research Consultants in Toronto, Canada, CodeXyme cellulase performed comparably or better than other leading enzymes. The studies compared the conversion of glucan to C6 sugars on dilute-acid pre-treated corn stover, using leading commercial enzyme products at their optimal pH and temperature. CodeXyme 3 (Codexis’ cellulase enzyme from 2011) was found to convert the same or more glucan at the same enzyme load as competing cellulase packages, and CodeXyme 4 fared even better against the latest alternative commercial enzymes.

In September 2012, Codexis established a robust applications capability and has since sold CodeXyme 4 and 4X to over a dozen potential partners and customers at lab and pilot scale. CodeXyme cellulase has been used successfully to hydrolyze biomass pre-treated with both acid-based and hydrothermal methods, as well as in sequential and simultaneous hydrolysis and fermentation.

Codexis is scheduled to scale up its novel CodeXyme 4X cellulase strain at commercial scale in the second quarter of this year. CodeXyme 4X cellulase will also be used in pilot production of bio-based CodeXolTM detergent alcohols in collaboration with Chemtex (Mossi & Ghisolfi Group) in Rivalta, Italy, by mid-year.

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