An expanded agreement hoping to develop better biocatalysts that could accelerate commercialization of next-generation biofuels has been made by Royal Dutch Shell, based in London, and Codexis, Inc., a California “clean technology” company. Shell also increased its equity stake in Codexis and will take an additional seat on the company’s board, according to a Codexis press release.

Codexis will work with Shell and Iogen Energy Corp. Iogen’s Ottawa, Canada, demonstration plant currently produces cellulosic ethanol from ag residue such as wheat straw. The goal of the new agreement: to enhance the Iogen process and shorten the timeline to its full-scale commercial deployment.

Iogen’s technology uses biocatalysts to break down the cellulose in ag fiber and convert it to sugars, which are then fermented and distilled into ethanol.

The new Shell-Codexis deal also continues its 2007 collaboration – to investigate other biofuels and research new biocatalysts to convert biomass directly into components similar to gasoline and diesel. Codexis will expand research at centers in the U.S. and in Budapest, Hungary.

“The expert Codexis team will make a real difference in the race toward full-scale commercial production of biofuel from non-food sources,” says Graeme Sweeney, Shell executive vice president, Future Fuels and CO2. “Better biocatalysts will improve efficiency and help lower costs.”