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Industrial Biotechnology Shaping Corn Biorefineries of the Future

By: Vijay Singh, Joel Stone, Jeffrey P. Robert, Sundeep N. Vani

Cereal Foods World, Vol. 64, No. 4

Bio-based markets, enabled by synthetic biology and increased emphasis on sustainability, are growing in the United States and around the world. Over the last five years, an exponential increase in investments in synthetic biology has been observed. Large amounts of renewable carbon in the form of fermentable sugars will be required to enable the production of next-generation biopolymer, biochemical, biofuel, and food products. In North America, sugars from corn (maize) will be the most abundant carbon source available to drive the industrial biotechnology engine. The demand for renewable carbon will improve stability in agricultural economies and support regional agricultural job creation. Traditional corn processing facilities are responding to this need by retrofitting their processing facilities to produce low-cost sugars or redirecting sugars from shrinking high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose markets to high-growth industrial biotechnology markets. However, there are still challenges that must be overcome to convert this opportunity into commercial reality. To succeed, new product and process development initiatives must meet economic, regulatory, quality, and other requirements within budget and time constraints. Translational research facilities that are specifically intended to accelerate commercialization and reduce the risk of utilizing new technologies will play a crucial role in realizing the opportunities offered by industrial biotechnology.

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