Codexis and Shell are expanding their collaboration on developing non-food based biofuels
. Codexis develops what the company calls biocatalysts, the enzymes used to break down cellulose into simple sugar molecules. Codexis and Shell have had a cooperative agreement since 2007 and the expansion will see Iogen Energy participating as well. Iogen is already operating a cellulosic ethanol
pilot plant near Ottawa, Canada
. The hope is that the work of Codexis will be able to improve the efficiency of Iogen's processes so that costs can be reduced and yields increased.
Other biocatalysts that Codexis is developing go beyond ethanol and might be able to convert biomass directly into the compounds that make up gasoline and diesel
fuel. These compounds contain longer carbon chains than ethanol and have greater energy density. By producing something more chemically similar to gasoline or diesel, the fuels could be used in existing vehicles without modification and without some of the corrosion issues that ethanol is subject too.