A unique European alliance involving The Linde Group has been set up in plant construction and biocatalysis to develop climate-friendly biofuels, which will not compete with food production.

Süd-Chemie AG, a world-leading producer of catalysts and adsorbent materials, entered into an exlcusive agreement with Linde to develop and market plants for the production of second-generation biofuels. Under the agreement, biotechnology will be used to extract fuels such as ethanol from the parts of plants that contain cellulose, such as wheat and maize straw, grasses and wood.

Second-generation biofuels, which are based on these renewable raw materials, have a significantly reduced effect on the climate and energy balance, when compared to the first-generation biofuels being used today, such as biodiesel derived from rapeseed oil. Moreover, and perhaps more significantly in the present food climate, these do not compete with the cultivation of crops for food and animal feed.

The partners in this unique European alliance complement each other perfectly, as Süd-Chemie will be supplying its know-how in biocatalysts and bioprocessing technology, while Linde, through its subsidiary Linde-KCA-Dresden, has a high level of expertise in chemical and biotechnological plant engineering.

Dr Günter von Au, Chairman of the Managing Board of Süd-Chemie AG, said, $quot;This cooperation agreement with Linde is of great strategic importance to Süd-Chemie. In this highly attractive market of the future, we plan to bundle our activities even more closely together, so that we can develop cost-effective market-ready plants for the production of energy-efficient climate-friendly biofuels.$quot;

Dr Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of The Linde Group, added, $quot;This is an ideal collaboration between two technology companies. By using biocatalysis and biotechnology plant engineering we are seeking to develop large-scale cost-effective techniques for the production of new biofuels. We are confident that by working together we will be able to help solve a number of important issues in the fields of energy, climate protection and mobility.$quot;

Given the increasing scarcity and rising price of oil, and the threat posed by climate change, the extraction of biofuels from plant material containing cellulose is an attractive market of the future. According to management consultants McKinsey & Company, the total global market for biofuels will be worth $61bn by 2010.