Technology Description

Under ideal conditions, fermenting microorganisms are capable to consume sugars and produce ethanol and other high-value products. However, the conditions in the
biotransformation process of lignocellulosic sugars are anything but ideal. The lignocellulose hydrolysates generated after pretreatment and hydrolysis contains not only fermentable sugars but also several compounds (such as acetic acid, furans, and phenols) that are toxic for the microorganisms. This constitutes the hydrolysates as an exceptionally difficult substrate for biotechnological conversion to biofuels or biochemicals.
Furthermore, high-solids concentration during the biotransformation process is needed to increase the profitability of the process. These high-loadings exert stress on the cell affecting its tolerance to inhibitors. Since an intermediate purification step of the hydrolysate is usually not a viable process option, a key requirement for efficient biotransformation of cellulosic sugars is a microbial strain that combines good fermentation capabilities with high robustness to the complex conditions of the hydrolysate. Thereof current microorganisms used in the ethanol industry do not function well in this hostile environment.
IMDEA Energy institute, focused on sustainable energy sources including biofuels, is
working on developing adapted microorganisms that can efficiently convert lignocellulosic hydrolysates in presence of inhibitors.
They are searching for the key metabolic, physiologic, genetic, and regulatory mechanisms underlying stress tolerance and adaptation.

Potential Benefits

We are looking for companies with expertise and facilities to produce biofuels and/or bioproducts from lignocellulosic sugars. Its main role will be to check the performance of fermenting microorganisms under technical cooperation or research cooperation agreement.


Research status

Suggested Applications

Development of new commercial yeast strains via directed evolution, genetic engineering, and/or adaptation for converting lignocellulose hydrolyzates into ethanol or other high value products.
Obtaining microorganisms with robustness able to be used in hostile environment, obtaining a biotransformation process needed to increase the profitability of the process.

Secret Know-how
Under development/lab tested
Research team of IMDEA Energy Biotechnological Processes Unit

IMDEA Energy Institute

Discover the institution >>
IMDEA Energy Institute was created in 2006 as non-profit Foundation to promote and carry out R&D&i activities to contribute to the development of a sustainable and decarbonised energy system. IMDEA Energy is strongly committed to the transfer of R&D outcomes to the productive sector. Website:
The technological areas
Engineering, Life sciences

Technology Readiness Level 4

Interested in being updated as to the helpdesk's activities?

By subscribing to the Newsletter, you will get constant updates about:

  • available technologies
  • recent changes in IP law
  • webinars and seminars
  • articles and presentations