Technology Application

FuturaGene’s goal is to deploy its leading technologies into its strategic business sectors to enhance sustainability and economic return in these sectors. FuturaGene has defined specific sectors as the initial offtake areas for its technology. These include:

Plantation Forestry

The clean development mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol encouraged the use of plantation forests as a means to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. FuturaGene’s technology has been shown to significantly enhance the yields of commercial eucalyptus clones in large scale field trials in a number of different geographies. High yielding industrial forests have a lower land “footprint” and thus demand significantly less resources in preparation and harvest. Additional collateral benefits such as reduction of transport related environmental pollution by producing more wood closer to the mill can also be gained by optimizing forest yield through the use of technology.

In addition to our close partnership with Suzano, our parent company, we have established regional collaborations with leading forestry companies to develop high-performing eucalyptus germplasm for the plantation forest industry. Whilst we have focused on eucalyptus, the second most widely used species in the paper and pulp industry, FuturaGene’s technology is suitable for a large range of additional plantation forest species such as, poplar, willow and softwood species which can be deployed using somatic embryogenesis technology.

BioPower

Coal fired power stations can use high density wood pellet for about 20% of their feedstock requirement. As the wood pellet can be produced from short rotation (2-year) closed loop coppiced energy plantations, this constitutes an immediate and available renewable fuel source for electricity production, significantly reducing net carbon emission. The energy content of such wood pellet is about 5MWh/ton. Whilst this is below the energy content of coal (~8MWh/ton), it is significantly higher than wood chip (~3MWh/ton).  FuturaGene technology supplies a highly significant yield boost in short rotation eucalyptus and poplar, thus enabling lower land use for production, cutting both input cost and collateral emission profiles from such closed loop forests.  Closed loop energy forests will be an early objective for FuturaGene technology deployment, with initial potential in the captive market provided by the large scale operations of Suzano Renewable Energy.

Biofuel

Fossil fuel (oil, coal and gas) currently supplies 80% of the world’s total energy requirements (International Energy Agency, 2007).  However, fossil fuels are not renewable and they contribute significantly to carbon emission, which has been associated with global climate changes. 

FuturaGene’s biofuel program is focused on renewable feedstocks with enhanced yields and processability and which are environmentally sustainable. Feedstock price and processability constitute the major cost components in second generation cellulose-to-ethanol technologies, providing a significant barrier to the economic feasibility of these technologies. Yield and processability enhancement are thus major objectives for the wide-scale introduction of these renewable fuel technologies. FuturaGene technology can be used to create biofuel feedstock with increased biomass, shorter crop cycles and improved cellulose accessibility and processability for use in biofuel. In addition FuturaGene is also working on imparting yield protection traits (abiotic stress) that would allow feedstock to be grown in marginal lands, currently not employed for food or feed crops.

FuturaGene’s technology is suitable for a large range of cellulosic biomass crops such as switchgrass, miscanthus, short rotation eucalyptus, hybrid poplar and willow which are being developed as biofuel crops. FuturaGene is working in collaboration with research institutes and offtakers to co-develop modified germplasm and appropriate industrial processes for optimized biofuel production in different regions of the world.

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