A significant portion of the petroleum consumed by the transport sector must be replaced in the long term by renewable energy. Therefore, it is of the utmost economic and ecological importance to optimise the production of biofuels from renewable raw materials. Researchers from VIB who are associated with KU Leuven have developed yeast strains that produce bio-ethanol from waste with an unprecedented efficiency. As a result, they are well placed to become important players on a global scale in this burgeoning industry.
Johan Thevelein (VIB/KU Leuven): "Our new yeast strains come at a good moment because the entire industry of second-generation biofuels has now clearly come quite a bit closer to becoming economically viable. We are working at full capacity to further improve our yeast strains in order to continue to increase the efficiency of the fermentations, and in this way we hope to further strengthen our leadership position in this burgeoning industrial sector."
Energy consumption of the transport sector
The production of bio-ethanol from waste streams, post-harvest waste (e.g., straw, wheat bran, empty corn husks or corn stalks) and wood (waste) is generally considered to be one of the most sustainable and climate-friendly technologies for producing fuels for the transport sector (road and air traffic). This sector is responsible for more than 10% of the energy consumed in Flanders. In 2011, the portion of energy that was renewable was only 4%, with bio-diesel as the predominant source (86%), followed by bio-ethanol (12%) and then green electricity (2%). In the future, the portion of renewable energy should increase even further to reach the minimum targeted level of 10% renewable energy by 2020.
Degrading all of the sugars in waste
Yeasts are used in the production of bio-ethanol from waste streams. Until recently, there were a number of important obstacles to making efficient bio-ethanol production attai
|Contact: Sooike Stoops|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)