A new biofuels technology company, Stellenbosch Biomass Technologies (SBMT) was launched on 2 July in Sandton, South Africa. SBMT, which is associated with Stellenbosch University as a research partner, holds the rights to commercialize and adapt the latest conversion technology developed by USA-based Mascoma Technologies company.
Mascoma is combining naturally occurring metabolic activities in single microorganisms by modifying the fermentative pathways of the most efficient processors of cellulose, including the thermophilic anaerobic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum, to produce high yields of ethanol from hardwoods and other biomass. (Earlier post.)
Stellenbosch University is the SBMT research partner for technology improvement.
Once the necessary investment is secured, the company hopes to set up their first demonstration scale plant within the next two years, to demonstrate the full-scale commercial viability of the venture.
SBMT provides low-cost, high-efficiency conversion technology that can ensure substantial savings in capital and operational expenses in the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Through research done at Stellenbosch University in the past few years, SBMT founding members have contributed their share of expertise in developing the current Mascoma Technology. Professor Lee Lynd of Dartmouth University in the US, who is a co-founder, Director, and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma, is also Professor Extraordinary of Microbiology at Stellenbosch Univ.