A U.S. company has completed a three-way-partnership license agreement with firms in China and Denmark that allows them to use a patented yeast product to produce cellulosic ethanol in their pilot and production facilities.

Officials from the Purdue Research Park-based company Green Tech America Inc. signed an agreement to permit China's COFCO Corp. and Denmark's Novozymes A/S to use the yeast developed by Purdue researchers, led by Nancy Ho, to produce cellulosic ethanol in their plants in China.

“This is Green Tech America's first international licensing agreement,” says Ho, the company's founder and president. “COFCO and Novozymes have proven records in developing the processes for the production of cellulosic ethanol, and we are very glad to partner with them in providing our yeast for their production of cellulosic ethanol.”

The yeast, known as the Ho-Purdue yeast, produces ethanol from cellulosic materials, including wood chips, grasses and agricultural wastes like cornstalks, more efficiently than conventional yeasts. It ferments glucose and xylose, two major types of sugar recovered from cellulosic biomass. Conventional yeasts ferment only glucose.

Ho is a research professor in Purdue's School of Chemical Engineering and also is affiliated with its Energy Center.