The Project

The transition from an economy based on fossil resources to a bio-based economy is a must and should be realized sooner than anticipated at the moment. A drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emission is urgently needed as the goals set to limit global climate change are not being met. The conversion of biomass into energy sources (biofuels, biogas) and chemicals plays an essential role in this transition.
To efficiently convert biomass and agricultural, industrial and municipal waste into fermentable sugars, chemical building blocks or bio-based materials, enzymes play an indispensable role. However, currently available enzymes have not specifically been developed for biogas production and are evaluated by “trial and error”. Thus far, the use of enzymes has not lived up to the expectations as little or no effects could be observed. Hence, efficient enzyme-enabled biomass conversion requires the availability of enzymes that have proven to be effective in practice and can be produced at an industrial scale.
Genencor International BV has recently developed a new enzyme product, derived from Myceliophthora thermophila C1, that in recent field trials has shown a promising 10% cost-reduction in the production of biogas from organic waste. Although the efficacy of the enzyme has clearly been shown, the current fermentation process does not provide sufficient yield in industrial production to be cost-effective for large-scale application.
The objective of DEMETER is to increase the yield of this industrial fermentation process by at least 20%, improve the product recovery process by 40%, and reduce overall product cost by at least 15% while increasing the productivity of the process. In addition, DEMETER will demonstrate the efficacy of the enzyme in 8 field trials in biogas plants throughout Europe.
The DEMETER consortium includes the entire value chain: enzyme producer Genencor International, enzyme retailer Miavit, the pilot plant BioBase Europe Pilot Plant, anaerobic digester expert OWS, independent research centre with a focus on the efficient use of biomass  DBFZ, Ciaotech for independent economic and environmental evaluation, and a large farm, Biomoer, for field trials.
DEMETER follows a multi-scale approach. First, the enzyme productivity will be improved on lab- and small pilot-scale, while obtaining insights for further scale-up. In parallel, the effect of enzymes on biogas yield will be quantified, using 5 commonly used biomass substrates. The improved fermentation and downstream process will be scaled up and demonstrated in a 15 000 L pilot plant. Finally, the improvement of the biogas production process due to the use of the enzyme will be demonstrated in practice in 8 field trials. The results of these field trials will be fed back to further improve the production process and its yield.