Energy crop company Ceres and enzyme provider Novozymes have entered a research collaboration to co-develop customized plant varieties and enzyme cocktails for production of cellulosic biofuel.

The companies expect to improve the process of converting biomass to fuel through more effective enzymes and higher quality energy crops in a joint optimization project that will lead to greater fuel yields.

Cynthia Bryant, manager of global biomass business development at Novozymes, said: “This is an example of how technology providers from different parts of the value chain are coming together to make cellulosic biofuel a commercial reality.

“Energy crops have an important role to play in the world’s future, sustainable energy mix. According to the Billion Ton Study by the US Department of Energy, one third of the total sustainably collected biomass potential from agricultural resources can come from perennial crops.”

Ceres and Novozymes said that they will initially work to determine the best enzyme cocktails for the biorefining of Ceres’ commercial switchgrass seed products. The partners will also begin similar evaluations of sweet sorghum, and Ceres plans to develop customized plant varieties that can be degraded easily by Novozymes’ enzymes. Enzymes can convert the biomass from energy crops into sugar, which can then be used to produce biofuel and other bio-products.