Toyota City, Japan – Toyota has developed a new strain of yeast that could potentially improve biofuel production while reducing costs.

The company showcased the new development at its Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory in Japan’s Aichi prefecture.

The yeast was developed through the use of gene recombination technology and will play an important role in the fermentation process for producing cellulosic ethanol. Fermentation of xylose, one of the sugars produced when plant fibres are broken down, is normally difficult to achieve with naturally-occurring yeast. The new yeast is not only highly efficient at fermenting xylose, but is also highly resistant to such fermentation-inhibiting substances as acetic acid.

As a result, the yeast has achieved one of the highest ethanol fermentation density levels in the world and is expected to improve biofuel yield and significantly reduce production costs.

Toyota is working on developing biofuels by focusing on cellulosic ethanol, which is produced from non-edible plants. The company plans to further improve biofuel production yield and to cooperate with energy companies to realize its goal of commercializing cellulosic ethanol by 2020.

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