Triangle biofuels company Novozymes said Monday morning it has signed a global deal worth as much as $173 million a year to supply its specialty enzymes to ethanol refineries that will make fuel out of energy crops around the world, including a plant planned in North Carolina.
The Danish company makes enzymes that break down plant leaves and stems into ethanol fuels for use in automobiles and trucks. Under natural conditions, the conversion of plant material to fossil fuels can take millions of years.
The joint marketing agreement with Beta Renwables is expected to supply enzymes to 15 to 25 new cellulosic biofuels facilities planned in the next three to five years. One such facility is in operation in Italy and another is planned in this state to be operational in Clinton by 2014.
The $170 million planned Clinton plant in Sampson County would rely heavily on an energy crop called Arundo donax, a giant reed that is considered invasive in many parts of the world. The facility is planned by Chemtex International and strongly backed by the N.C. Biofuels Center, but is opposed by some scientists at N.C. State University and various environmental organizations that say Arundo could become the next kudzu.
As part of the joint marketing agreement, Novozymes will acquire 10 percent of Beta Renwables, which is partly owned by Chemtex.
Novozymes employs 500 people at its North American headquarters in Franklinton, about 30 miles north of Raleigh.