Transformative Technologies 2010 nominees: Cellulosic ethanol – US

| June 7, 2010

Nominations: Cellulosic ethanol – US
To vote in Transformative Technologies 2010, visit here.

Abengoa Bioenergy
Abengoa Bioenergy announced in January that its $550 million Hugoton-based cellulosic ethanol plan has signed an agreement with Mid-Kansas Electric Company to supply 75 MW of power, in addition to producing 15 Mgy of cellulosic ethanol from corn stover, wheat straw and switchgrass. The proposed plant is expected to start-up in 2012 and will employ 90 people, while purchasing 9 million tons of biomass, which it projects to acquire at an average price of $14.24 per ton, while consuming up to 12 percent of cellulosic biomass available within a 50 mile radius.

Decatur, IL: This project will use acid to break down biomass which can be converted to liquid fuels or energy. The ADM facility will produce ethanol and ethyl acrylate, a compound used to make a variety of materials, and will also recover minerals and salts from the biomass that can then be returned to the soil.

AE Biofuels
AE Biofuels (AEBF.OB) said that its impending reimagination of the 55 Mgy Cilion ethanol plant in Keyes will be in operation by March, and will convert to cellulosic ethanol production. AE Biofuels owns a cellulosic ethanol commercial demonstration facility in Butte, Montana that utilizes the company’s enzyme technology to produce cellulosic ethanol from wheat straw, corn stalks and other agricultural waste.  Under the terms of the project agreement, AE Biofuels will invest $1.6 million in repair and restart, along with $1 million contributed by the plant’s original contractor.

American Process
Alpena, MI: This project will produce fuel and potassium acetate, a compound with many industrial applications, using processed wood generated by Decorative Panels International, an existing hardboard manufacturing facility in Alpena. The pilot plant will have the capacity to produce up to 890,000 gallons of ethanol and 690,000 gallons of potassium acetate per year starting in 2011.

Bluefire Ethanol
The company’s Fulton, Mississippi project will construct a facility that produces ethanol fuel from woody biomass, mill residue, and sorted municipal solid waste. The facility will have the capacity to produce 19 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Buckeye Technology
Officials at the University of Florida held a groundbreaking ceremony for a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant at the Buckeye Technologies pulp mill in Taylor County, which will use genetically modified E. coli bacteria to convert wood waste and sorghum into cellulosic ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol pioneer Lonnie Ingram, who developed the process, said that the plant would commence producing ethanol in 2011.

Bye Energy
Last month, Bye Energy announced that it has completed acquisition of Novare Biofuels, and thereby acquired the rights to a thermochemical, cellulosic biomass process concept and design  to produce both aviation gasoline and aviation jet fuel. Terms of the acquisition transaction were not disclosed. Novare was founded by J. Thomas McKinnon, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, who has joined Bye Energy as Chief Scientist. Bye Energy is developing opportunities to produce and market biomass-derived fuels to replace traditional petroleum sources for use in general and business aviation aircraft.

At the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, Coskata announced that it has closed a round of equity financing. French oil major TOTAL invested an undisclosed amount in the round and will have a seat on Coskata’s Board of Directors. “Coskata has already successfully demonstrated   its syngas conversion technology  at a significant scale, and we are pleased to support this promising platform technology for the further steps of its development.” said Manoelle Lepoutre, Senior Vice president Sustainable Development and Environment of TOTAL SA, and President of Total Energy Ventures International.

Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol

In January, Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol officially opened its 250,000 gallon demonstration facility in Vonore, and the first one dedicated to converting both agricultural residue and bioenergy crops to fuel ethanol. The facility has initiated start-up and began producing ethanol in mid-January. The facility is focused on process and data validation to achieve commercial scale production by 2012. The plant is using corn cobs as a feedstock today, and will begin to integrate switchgrass grown primarily in Tennessee later this year.

The ethanol plant in Blairstown, acquired by Fiberight for $1.65 million from Xethanol, will be converted to cellulosic ethanol production, focusing on conversion of municipal solid waste to ethanol. Fiberight has operated a cellulosic ethanol pilot  plant in Virginia since 2006, and CEO Craig Stuart-Paul told Ethanol Producer that “We’ve been operating in stealth mode because we don’t want to make claims until we can prove them.”  Key to Fiberight’s technology is its ability to recycle enzymes to lower costs, and conversion of plastics in the MSW waste stream to power to run the plant. Conversion of the existing plant is expected to cost $20 million.

Haldor Topsoe
Des Plaines, IL. This project will convert wood to green gasoline by fully integrating and optimizing a multi-step gasification process. The pilot plant will have the capacity to process 21 metric tons of feedstock per day.

St. Joseph, MO. This project will modify an existing corn?ethanol facility to produce cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass and energy sorghum using biochemical conversion processes.

Vero Beach, FL: This project will produce ethanol and electricity from wood and vegetative residues and construction and demolition materials. The facility will combine biomass gasification and fermentation, and will have the capacity to produce 8 million gallons of ethanol and 2 megawatts of electricity per year by the end of 2011.

Logos Technologies
Visalia, CA. This project will convert switchgrass and woody biomass into ethanol using a biochemical conversion processes.

In April, POET outlined its plans to produce up to 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022 in a presentation at the National Press Club.The POET’s plan divides into three parts: 1 billion gallons through added capacity at POET’s existing network of 26 corn ethanol plants. 1.4 billion gallons through licensing of the POET technology to other existing corn ethanol producers. 1.1 billion gallons based on new feedstocks sourced through POET Biomass and through joint ventures, using wheat straw, switchgrass and municipal waste as feedstocks.

Range Fuels
In March, Range Fuels announced that it had received a loan note guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and closed its related $80 million bond issuance. The proceeds from the $80 million bond will be used to partially finance the first two phases of construction of Range Fuels’ first commercial cellulosic biofuels plant using renewable and sustainable supplies of non-food biomass near Soperton, Georgia. The plant’s initial output has been set at 4 Mgy of methanol, with a switch to ethanol and higher volumes at a later date.

Trenton Fuel Works
In New Jersey, Trenton Fuel Works announced details of its proposed 3.87 Mgy biomass-to-fuel pilot project in Trenton, converting food, paper and yard waste Trenton Fuel Works at a facility that will cost $2 million to acquire and $65 million to retrofit and commence operations. The pilot project will utilize 340 tons of waste per day generated in the New York-Philadelphia corrode, and utilizes weak acid hydrolysis to convert biomass to ethanol.

Through Vercipia, a 50-50 joint venture with BP, the Company is moving rapidly to commercialize cellulosic technology for the production of ethanol from a wide array of non-food feedstocks, including dedicated energy crops, agricultural waste, and wood products. In addition to the vast potential for biofuels, a multitude of large-scale industrial opportunities exist for the Company for products derived from the production of low-cost, biomass-derived sugars.


Acetogens have been shown to be powerful organisms in other industries such as wastewater treatment before ZeaChem began utilizing them for bio-based chemicals and fuels production. Naturally-occurring acetogens are highly robust and, unlike yeast, produce no carbon dioxide (CO2) during the fermentation process, allowing ZeaChem to realize a significant efficiency and yield advantage. ZeaChem’s technology is a parallel hybrid system of fermentation and gasification. This hybrid process achieves 40% higher yield than other cellulosic processes. Theoretical maximum for biochemical and thermochemical players is approximately 100 gallons/BDT compared to ZeaChem’s theoretical maximum of 165 gallons/BDT. At 85% efficiency, actual yield for biochemical and thermochemical only processes will be around 90 gallons/BDT compared to 135 gallon/BDT for ZeaChem’s technology. This significant yield advantage translates into economic saving and environmental benefits.


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