The approval for commercial use of a genetically modified type of yeast, essential in the production of sugarcane-based diesel, is a relevant advance for the sugarcane industry that can potentially lead to further expansion for the Brazilian sugarcane industry. That assessment from the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) refers to the authorization granted for the yeast on Thursday (February 11) by Brazil’s National Technical Biosafety Committee, known as CTNBio.
“This is a vital step for the advancement of various projects being developed around the world, that involve the production of hydrocarbons from sugarcane,” explains UNICA’s Emissions and Technology Consultant, Alfred Szwarc. One of these projects is the partnership between the Boa Vista mill in Pirenópolis (GO), part of the São Martinho Group, and Amyris, a California-based company that is researching production of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline from sugarcane.
The yeast authorized by CTNBio is a fungus widely used in the production of wine, “cachaça” and bread yeast. The approved specimen had its DNA modified, to enable it to produce farnesene, a precursor of diesel fuel.
“Diesel produced in this fashion does not contain sulfur, produces less particulate material and is renewable. All of these factors reduce global warming impacts,” explained Luciana di Ciero, Regulatory and Institutional Affairs Manager at Amyris, in an interview to the Brazilian daily newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Amyris maintains partnerships with companies such as GE, Embraer, Azul Airlines and the U.S. Air Force, all of them geared towards research and development of fuels produced from sugarcane.