Virginia startup turning tobacco into biofuel

Lancaster Farming
June 06, 2017
By Lancaster Farming

As foreign competition and falling U.S. demand are hurting American tobacco farmers, a Virginia company is preparing the crop’s second act as a biofuel.

Tyton BioEnergy Systems of Danville is testing its technique for extracting the plant’s fermentable sugars on a small scale and plans to start industrial production in 2017, Peter Majeranowski, the company’s co-founder and president, said during a recent investor webinar.

Tobacco has a lot to recommend it as a biofuel source.

Most industrial crops are high in either sugar or oil. Tobacco has both, and Tyton’s plant breeders have doubled or tripled the content of both in the company’s specialized lines, Majeranowski says.

Tobacco is relatively low in lignin, the compound that gives plants their rigidity.

“It’s kind of a soft plant and requires a less aggressive or more mild process to break it down,” Majeranowski says.

Easier breakdown leads to lower processing costs, he says. | READ MORE.

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