Corvallis-based Trillium FiberFuels has created process technology and equipment to more efficiently convert cellulosic feedstocks into ethanol.

In January 2011, Business Oregon awarded Trillium a commercialization grant of approximately $74,000 through the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (BEST). In collaboration with Oregon State University researcher Christine Kelly, the company will work to develop a unique enzyme for use in its novel cellulosic ethanol fermentation process.

In November 2008, Business Oregon provided a grant of $248,000 through the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI)TrilliumXYloXyluSmall for Trillium FiberFuels to develop a functionalized microfiber process. The company’s process improves the efficiency of creating fuel grade ethanol from biomass such as straw by up to 40%. It uses an enzyme to enable xylose, a sugar present in plants that isn’t immediately fermentable by brewer’s yeast, to be converted to alcohol.

“Production of this new enzyme in industrial quantities will dramatically change the cost effectiveness of Trillium technology and allow us to transition from a few niche applications to widespread feedstocks such as wheat straw,” said Chris Beatty, president and cofounder of Trillium FiberFuels.

Trillium was previously awarded a $750,000 Oregon Department of Energy grant to commercialize the process. Trillium is ramping up production to test if the processes that worked in the lab will work on an industrial scale. ONAMI is the first Oregon signature research center. It is an initiative of the Oregon Innovation Council, which strives to create new jobs and industries by partnering private industry with Oregon’s research universities. ONAMI has leveraged more than $90 million from federal and private sources to grow 15 new companies in just two years