MASCOMA OPENING HEADQUARTERS
Mascoma Corporation is moving the company’s corporate headquarters from Boston into a new research laboratory and office building in Lebanon, NH. Construction of the new building will be completed in August, with occupancy by September.
The producer of low carbon, advanced biofuels was founded in 2006 in nearby Hanover, NH by two Dartmouth College professors, Drs. Lee Lynd and Charles Wyman. The company has operated a research and development lab in Lebanon since that time. Today, the majority of Mascoma’s employees are based in Lebanon.
The headquarters move will allow R&D, engineering and commercial development staff to work together under one roof—providing smooth technology transfer from the lab to operating facilities. It will eliminate travel between offices and decrease the company’s carbon footprint. Corporate administrative and operating costs also will be reduced.
“The move will provide three things: it will make our production process scale-up easier, provide operating efficiencies, and lower costs”, said Bruce Jamerson, Mascoma chairman and CEO.
Mascoma owns and operates a large-scale demonstration facility in Rome, NY that produces cellulosic ethanol from non-food biomass feedstocks such as wood chips. Mascoma’s affiliate Frontier Renewable Resources is actively developing a commercial scale production facility in Kinross, MI, expected to begin construction in 2010.
The corporate office move will involve a reduction of 12-15 positions due to elimination of redundant functions and inability of some staff to relocate. However, some new positions will be created in Lebanon, and Rome staffing will be unaffected.
Mascoma recently announced that the company has made major research advances in consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), a low-cost processing strategy for production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass. CBP avoids the need for the costly production of cellulose enzymes by using engineered microorganisms that produce celluloses and ethanol at high yield in a single step.
“This is a true breakthrough that takes us much, much closer to billions of gallons of low-cost cellulosic biofuels,” said Michigan State University’s Dr. Bruce Dale, editor of the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefineries.
In a recent Forbes article, biofuels expert Helena Chum of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, commented on CBP. “This is the golden dream. All of the processes in one super-organism. That would be the lowest cost possible,” she said. CBP is widely considered to be the ultimate low-cost configuration for cellulose hydrolysis and fermentation.
Multiple research advances presented by Mascoma at the 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in San Francisco provided proof of concept for CBP. These include advances with both bacteria that grow at high temperatures, called thermophiles, and recombinant cellulolytic yeasts.
In February 2009, Mascoma announced that its pilot facility in Rome, NY had begun producing cellulosic ethanol. The demonstration facility, which was constructed with support from the State of New York through the state Department of Agriculture & Markets and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, has the flexibility to run on numerous biomass feedstocks including wood chips, tall grasses, corn stover (residual corn stalks) and sugar cane bagasse.
The facility will provide process performance engineering data sufficient to support construction of 1/10th scale and commercial-scale biorefineries in Kinross, MI.
EMC PICKS CAMBRIDGE, MA FOR NEW R&D LAB
EMC Corp. is increasing its presence in Massachusetts with a new research facility and sponsorship of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab in an effort to better link itself with university research and startups.
The Hopkinton, MA, storage and information management giant said the Media Lab sponsorship is one of several initiatives coordinated out of EMC Research Cambridge, Cambridge, MA. The center will house EMC’s security-business research lab, RSA Laboratories, as well as about a dozen researchers, technologists and business leaders across EMC’s business units. The company also has research facilities in China and Santa Clara, CA.
“Research and advanced technology groups across EMC, along with our global university research partners, are discovering and exploring new technologies that will shape the future of digital information,” said Jeff Nick, EMC senior vice president and chief technology officer.
As a consortium sponsor of the MIT Media Lab, EMC will be able to access the center’s research on how people use and interact with new technologies. EMC said its initial collaboration will be on new models for data ownership and usage, interfaces for business transactions, and health-care IT initiatives.
A consortium sponsorship costs $200,000 per year for a minimum of three years. Sponsors receive full intellectual property rights to technology developed at the lab during their sponsorship. The laboratory announcement comes a week after EMC and a group of universities and technology companies announced the development of a high-performance computing research facility in Holyoke, MA.