27 Oct 2015   |   Network News

More biofuel, using less land

GlobalYeast, KU Leuven

www.globalyeast.com (not yet live)

The problem: Finding efficient ways of producing ethanol from cellulose plant material such as corn husks or stalks, is a long-term research objective.

The answer: Now scientists at KU Leuven have succeeded in producing what they claim to be unprecedented efficiency in biofuel production.

Their spin out, GlobalYeast, did this by genetically modifying industrial strains of yeast so that they can very easily ferment sugars in plant cellulose. Their new yeast strains have proved to efficiently and quickly ferment various types of biomass into bioethanol in real conditions, outside of the lab. The result is a reduction on the amount of corn or biomass used to produce biofuel.

The company: GlobalYeast has a division in Brazil, where the team will focus on the business development aspects, and Belgium, where R&D will be performed. The company raised a total of €6.25 million from an investor consortium composed of a Brazilian venture capital fund (Performa Investimentos), two Belgian funds (Gemma Frisius and SOFI) and VIB, a life sciences institute in Flanders. Johan Thevelein, the head of KU Leuven’s Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, founded the company and Marcelo do Amaral runs it.

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