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New enzyme plant readies to supply biofuel plants

By Josh Funk

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 20 2011 4:12 p.m. MST

Blair plant manager Fred Reikowsky says the project has been able to remain on schedule even though last summer's severe flooding along the Missouri River cut off barge traffic to the area. Reikowsky said Novozymes had brought in enough equipment before the flooding that workers were able to stay busy.

The shells of most buildings on the 37-acre complex have been completed, and workers are now assembling the filtration systems and storage tanks inside.

But in one building, rows of giant fermenting tanks remain exposed to the elements at the moment because construction workers are still installing the steel skin of that building.

An elevated network of pipes runs throughout the Novozymes complex connecting the buildings. Different pipes in that network will carry the water, glucose and air needed for fermentation and transport the enzymes through the production process.

The plant will grow microorganisms inside a series of sterile tanks until those organisms create the enzymes needed for ethanol production.

After the enzymes are created, Novozymes runs the product through a series of filters to remove moisture and the microorganisms.

What's left is a concentrated enzyme that can then be mixed to suit the needs of different customers. A blending facility is already operating at the Blair plant and mixing enzymes for customers.

The finished product leaves the site in semitrailer tanker trucks.

Blair was chosen for Novozymes' new plant because the plant will be close to the raw materials it needs and close to its customers. Plus, Nebraska offered relatively cheap electrical power for the plant.

The Blair plant will take over production of Novozymes' biofuel enzymes from the company's North Carolina plant. That facility will then focus on making enzymes for other uses, including detergents, food production and beer brewing.

Novozymes estimates that its products accounted for about 47 percent of the global enzyme market in 2010 and about 65 percent of the biofuel enzyme market.

Sales of biofuel enzymes account for about 18 percent of Novozymes' business.

Novozymes, which is based in Bagsvaerd, Denmark, employs about 5,400 people — half of them based in Denmark.

Online:

Novozymes: http://www.novozymes.com

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