World’s largest cellulosic biofuels plant opens: Beta Renewables, in pictures

October 10, 2013 |

I PIU' VERDI DEL MONDOBeta Renewables plant in Crescentino, Italy to produce 75 million liters of cellulosic ethanol per year from agricultural waste.

What does a commercial-scale plant look like?

In Italy, Beta Renewables and Novozymes marked the official opening in Northern Italy of the world’s largest cellulosic biofuels facility. Situated in fields outside the city of Crescentino, it is the first plant in the world to be designed and built to produce ethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial scale using enzymatic conversion.

The plant uses wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax, a high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land. Lignin, a polymer extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is used at an attached power plant, which generates enough power to meet the facility’s energy needs, with any excess green electricity sold to the local grid.

The two companies formed a strategic partnership in October 2012, making N

ovozymes the preferred enzyme supplier for Beta Renewables’ current and future cellulosic biofuel projects. More than $200 million has been invested in research and development of the technology used to produce cellulosic ethanol at the Crescentino facility, since 2011.

Reaction from the partners

“Investors interested in cellulosic ethanol often ask when the technology will be ready at commercial scale,” said Beta Renewables’

Chairman and CEO, Guido Ghisolfi. “PROESA enables customers to produce advanced biofuel at a cost-competitive price relative to conventional biofuels – at large-scale and today. Our complete offering makes cellulosic biofuel projects bankable and replicable. With the world’s first commercial plant up and running here in northern Italy, I very much look forward to an exciting journey of establishing an entirely new, and very promising, industry.”

“The opening today presents a leap forward and is truly the beginning of a new era for advanced biofuels,” says Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes. “Here, at this plant, enabled by Novozymes’ enzymatic technology, we will turn agricultural waste into millions of liters of low-emission green fuel, proving that cellulosic ethanol is no longer a distant dream. It is here, it is happening, and it is ready for large-scale commercialization.”

The Project in Pictures

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