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Syngenta increases involvement in ethanol market


Enogen corn

Two announcements today demonstrate Syngenta’s increasing involvement in producing feedstocks for the ethanol market. First, Syngenta announced that is has signed a commercial agreement with Bonanza BioEnergy, Garden City, KS, to use corn featuring the Enogen trait technology in 2013. The Enogen technology allows corn to express the alpha amylase enzyme, the main enzyme used in dry grind ethanol production to convert starch to sugars.


The enzyme is noted to help ethanol plants reduce the viscosity of corn mash and reduce energy, gas and water consumption. “By working across broad ranges of temperature and pH levels, Enogen corn creates flexibility for ethanol plants that helps them capture increased levels of throughput or cost savings based on market conditions,” says David Witherspoon, head, renewable fuels, Syngenta.


Bonanza Energy, a member of Conestoga Energy Partners, LLC, is working to source Enogen grain from local growers. Growers will begin planting the corn under contract in spring 2013 and will deliver the grain to Bonanza BioEnergy in the fall. Growers will be paid a premium on top of market prices for each bushel of Enogen grain delivered to the ethanol plant.


Sweet sorghum and crop protection

Syngenta also has signed a sweet sorghum agreement with the Brazilian subsidiary (Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda.) of energy crop company Ceres, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA. Ceres reports that sweet sorghum can extend the ethanol production season by up to 60 days in Brazil. It can be grown on fallow sugarcane land and processed using the same equipment.


Syngenta and Ceres will collaborate on small-scale trials as well as demonstration-scale field tests with ethanol plants. Syngenta will provide its agronomy resources to evaluate crop protection products alongside Ceres hybrids. Ceres will provide both seed and research support.


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