Royal Dutch Shell plc and Codexis, Inc. have expanded an agreement to develop better biocatalysts that could accelerate commercialization of next generation biofuels. Shell also increased its equity stake in Codexis and will take an additional seat on the company's board.

As part of the agreement, Codexis will work with Shell and Iogen Energy Corp. to enhance the efficiency of biocatalysts used in the Iogen cellulosic ethanol production process. The Iogen demonstration plant in Ottawa, Canada currently produces cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residue, such as wheat straw.

The research program with Codexis aims to enhance the Iogen process and shorten the timeline to its full-scale commercial deployment. Iogen's technology uses biocatalysts to break down the cellulose in agricultural fiber and convert it to sugars, which are then fermented and distilled into ethanol.

The new Shell-Codexis deal also continues the collaboration announced in November 2007 to investigate other biofuels, researching new biocatalysts to convert biomass directly into components similar to gasoline and diesel. Codexis will expand research at a center in the U.S. and at a new center in Budapest, Hungary.

"The expert Codexis team will make a real difference in the race toward full-scale commercial production of biofuel from non-food sources," said Graeme Sweeney, Shell Executive Vice President of Future Fuels and CO2.

"Better biocatalysts will improve efficiency and help lower costs."

"In just over two years, our biofuels collaboration with Shell has grown from a pilot project to a significant multifaceted program to create commercial-scale biofuels from non-food sources," said Codexis President and CEO Alan Shaw, Ph.D.

"Codexis has complemented its advanced directed evolution platform with world class technologies ranging from systems biology to large scale biocatalyst production. We are very pleased to attract such significant private equity investment."


Source: EnergyCurrent