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Pure Power establishes Brains Trust

For Immediate Release

Pure Power establishes Brains Trust to focus on lignocellulosic conversion

Renewable energy company, Pure Power, today announced that it is increasing its research and development activities into lignocellulosics by setting up a “Brains Trust” to capitalise on its significant expertise in this field.

Lignocellulosics is the science governing the conversion of plant biomass to biofuels and other bioproducts. Pure Power gained the nucleus of its lignocellulosic team when it acquired New Zealand company, BioJoule, in December 2007 for US$5.5 million in cash and stock. It is now augmenting the work previously undertaken in lignocellulosic conversion and building a research capability around the core team.

“Pure Power recognised the potential of lignocellulosic technology when producing biofuels, and actively sought to acquire a science team with the ability to drive our biofuel strategy,” says Pure Power founder and Chief Executive, David Milroy. “We selected BioJoule because of its expertise in the extraction of valuable bioproducts from lignocellulosic feedstock or woody biomass. Over the last five years, members of the science team have developed innovative techniques for processing plant biomass.

“With this announcement, we are firmly committing our R&D efforts to lignocellulosic technology and driving its development to deliver a portfolio of renewable biofuels and bioproducts, all derived from sustainably produced feedstocks.“

Under the leadership of one of New Zealand’s most respected scientists, Dr Jim Watson (BioJoule’s founder and now Pure Power’s Energy Evangelist), Pure Power will focus on commercial applications for its unique set of processes.
These enable bio-refineries to convert lignocellulosic feedstocks and other biomass into bioethanol, biodiesel, biocrude and a large range of bioproducts such as bioplastics and biochemicals.

“Our technology targets components of the feedstock which were previously deemed to have little commercial value,” says Dr Watson. “Woody biomass is composed of 40 to 50 percent lignin – the substance which gives trees their rigidity – with cellulose and hemicellulose making up the remainder.

“What makes Pure Power’s technology different is that most, if not all, other technologies are aimed primarily at isolating the celluloses and hemicelluloses and fermenting them into ethanol to produce a single product – bioethanol – destroying or degrading the lignin in the process.”

Pure Power’s unique washing processes gently preserve and recover the lignin, converting the biomass into three product streams: bioethanol, xylose and natural lignin, which can then be used to make hundreds of different bioproducts including paints, glues, resins and chemicals such as phenol, which are currently derived from petroleum. In addition the process also yields xylose, from which xylitol (a sugar substitute) can be made.

“Our approach to utilising feedstocks is different because our expertise is founded in biotechnology and molecular biology, rather than in traditional petrochemical and engineering disciplines,” says Dr Watson. “Where engineers look for better ways of converting sugar from current crops into alcohol, we seek out prime feedstocks such as specialty energy crops with all the characteristics we desire. To meet our criteria, they have to be plentiful, able to grow well on marginal land without consuming large quantities of fertiliser and they must be readily processed.”

Specialty energy crops yield comparatively more biomass than conventional food and forestry feedstocks. They do it at a better energy balance, with fewer fertilisers. And, typically, these crops are also carbon neutral: they do not emit more CO2 during burning than was originally absorbed by the biomass.

Pure Power is a vertically integrated renewable energy company, with operational headquarters in Singapore, which drives an aggressive acquisition program and deploys its renewable energy solutions into markets around the world.

”Pure Power’s Brains Trust is a key driver of Pure Power’s bid to become a vertically integrated renewable global energy company,” says Mr Milroy. “By owning unique lignocellulosic conversion technology and processes, we utilise the next generation of biofuel feedstocks to establish commercial opportunities beyond those afforded by conventional methods of biofuel extraction.”


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