In response to the food crisis that the first generation biofuel is causing (partially), an industrial producer of enzymes based in Denmark, Novozymes, has recently launched a new enzyme called Novozymes Avantec, which is claimed to produce 2.5% more bioethanol from corn.
Biofuel production in the U.S. is mostly generated from corn, and the new enzyme could produce the same amount of bioethanol using much fewer corns, enabling more corn products allotted for the food sector. According to Novozymes’ executive vice president Peder Holk Nielsen, “if all ethanol plants in the US started using Avantec, they would save 3 million tonnes of corn.”
The new enzyme is not actually a revolutionary one, but it is “very smart to use the resources more efficiently,” according to Claus Felby, University of Copenhagen’s professor in biomass and bioenergy. He justifies the utilization of corn as a biofuel source saying, “First generation bioethanol is often criticised. But one tends to forget that just as much animal feed is produced when you produce ethanol from corn.”
First generation biofuels are known to impede food production as they make use of food products such as corn, sugar, and vegetable oil, leading to food shortage that impacts poorer nations. Second generation biofuels attract more enthusiasts as they take advantage of non-food products and other sustainable feedstock such as algae, wood chips, and biowastes.
Inevitably, first generation biofuel critics have come forward to suggest Novozymes to focus on developing enzymes that would benefit second generation biofuels instead. “There’s a world of difference between worsening a food crisis and … taking real waste and using that as a resource,” says Dan Belusa, a sustainable agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace in Copenhagen.
Second generation biofuels are undoubtedly a better option for renewable energy production as they maximize the purpose or usability of every bit of unused materials, making sure that nothing is put to waste. Nevertheless, while the biofuel industry is still in a transitional phase, it is certainly wiser to make use of food-based biofuel sources more efficiently.
[via Nine MSN]