Codexis announces carbon capture progress at ARPA-E summit

Redwood City, Calif., February 28, 2011 — At the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit today in Washington, D.C., Codexis, Inc. will announce significant progress towards developing economical, commercial scale technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The program is supported by an ARPA-E Recovery Act program grant. Coal-fired power plants are major emitters of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

“Current carbon capture technology is inefficient and costly, hindering large scale deployment,” said Alan Shaw, Ph.D., president and CEO. “It can nearly double the cost of electricity produced by a coal-fired power plant, and decrease the amount of total plant electricity output. Using Codexis technology, power plant operators may be able to use more efficient capture methods to decrease the cost of carbon capture. This, in turn, could lead to wider adoption of this important technology solution.”

The data will be presented today in a poster session and tomorrow in a presentation by James Lalonde, Ph.D., Codexis’ Vice President of Biochemistry and Engineering Research and Development. Codexis is jointly developing the technology with CO2 Solution, Inc., Quebec, Canada. 

The grant supports development of custom enzymes to decrease energy needed to capture CO2 from coal-fired power plants. Enzymes developed by Codexis under the grant have been shown to be functional and stable in relatively inexpensive and energy efficient solvents for 24 hours at temperatures up to 75 degrees Celsius.

Use of these solvents with fully developed enzymes is expected to reduce the energy needed to capture CO2 within the plant by 30 percent. 

This performance is essential to reaching a key goal of the program — using improved technology to reduce the incremental cost of electricity with carbon capture from an 80 percent increase using presently available technology to no more than a 35 percent increase.

These reductions are possible through development of customized carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzymes, or biocatalysts. CA is an enzyme which catalyzes the transfer of carbon dioxide in nature — for example, CA enables carbon dioxide to be released from blood into the lungs during respiration.

However, the natural enzyme does not function at the high temperatures and harsh industrial conditions in coal-fired power plant flue gas. In research being presented this week, enzyme performance has been improved by about 100,000 times over natural forms of the CA enzyme. 

In May 2010, Codexis was selected to receive up to a $4.7 million ARPA-E Recovery Act program grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for development of innovative technology to remove carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plant emissions. The grant was one of 37 research projects which the DoE said “could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy.” 

Codexis is a clean technology company. Codexis develops optimized biocatalysts that make industrial processes faster, cleaner and more efficient. Codexis’ technology is commercialized with leading global pharmaceutical companies and in development for advanced biofuels with Shell and in carbon capture.

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