Project Liberty Production Ramps Up

liberty-rampProject LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa, has produced and shipped several tank cars of cellulosic ethanol even as the plant is ramping up to its full 20 million gallon-per-year capacity. Last year’s startup phase yielded great experience that will benefit subsequent plants and the learning continues each day as POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels works to make cellulosic ethanol in the most efficient way possible.

According to POET, the start-up phase that lasted more than a year, has yielded good experience that will benefit future plants. This learning, the company says, continues daily as the POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels team work to make cellulosic ethanol even more efficient.

POET-DSM’s process uses corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk as the feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. The feedstock is harvested by local farmers and transported to the plant for processing. Besides ethanol, Project LIBERTY produces biogas from its anaerobic digester and steam from its solid-fuel boiler to produce power to run its own processes and export energy to the adjacent grain-based ethanol plant.

Cellerate + Enogen = More Ethanol Production

According to Syngenta, the combination of Cellerate process technology with Enogen can increase ethanol production by 20 percent. The 18 day trial was conducted at the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) plant. Since going online, the ethanol plant has produced more than 3 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol via the Cellerate process. The resulting ethanol is sold as a D3 Rin under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the pathway will be submitted to the California Air Resources Board for approval.

Enogen logoQCCP CEO Delayne Johnson says this dramatic increase was achieved by realizing an additional 6 percent yield per bushel from converting corn kernel fiber into ethanol, plus a 14 percent throughput increase by combining Cellerate with Enogen. Developed at QCCP in Galva, Iowa, Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies (CET), LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of QCCP.

“Without changes to the conventional starch ethanol process, Cellerate offers advantages to ethanol plants including pre-treatment in the fiber that allows whole stillage processing without the requirement to separate all the fiber and starch,” Johnson said. “Pre-treatment breaks down fiber, allowing mild whole stillage fiber treatment with pH low enough to prevent starch degradation. This reduces the time, chemicals and energy required. It also allows a plant to load significantly more solids and capture residual starch, sugars and cellulosic component in a second fermentation process.”

Johnson continued, “With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol – all from the same kernel of corn.”

“Cellerate can help ethanol producers improve the protein content of dried distillers grains to as much as 40 percent (DM) and boost total yield of distillers corn oil up to a potential 1.6 pounds per bushel (QCCP is currently achieving 1.1 pounds per bushel),” added Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta. “We believe that not only will Cellerate process technology help make advanced and cellulosic ethanol a reality, but the combination of Cellerate and Enogen could represent the next step forward for ethanol production.”

Alliance BioEnergy Reports Successful Cellulosic Pilot

Alliance BioEnergy + has been developing bolt-on cellulosic ethanol technology and the company has announced that its results from the testing of its pilot plant are positive. The tests looked at distillers grains (DDGs) and corn kernel fiber and it ability to be converted to cellulosic ethanol using the CoPro Max separation unit designed in conjunction with Harvest Technology. The two byproducts can be converted into cellulosic ethanol, adding millions of gallons of additional ethanol production to an existing facility.

alliance-bioThe pilot testing has demonstrated that the corn kernel fiber is an ideal feedstocks when used in the CTS process and converts nearly 100 percent of the available sugars in as little as 12 minutes, according to Alliance BioEnergy. When combined with the CoPro Max system (to an 100 million gallons per year) corn ethanol plant), the company is reporting the CTS process adds nearly 12 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol to the plant and recovers most all of the highly valuable corn oil and proteins, from the DDGs. In addition, Alliance BioEnergy is reporting the sale of the additional ethanol, corn oil and proteins as well as cellulosic credits could add an additional $48 million to the bottom-line of a typical 100 mmgy corn ethanol plant.

Advantages of the bolt-on technology, says Alliance, include no need to purchase or transport feedstock to the plant nor is there a pre-treatment process.

Alliance BioEnergy is reporting its intentions to build and install the first unit in an existing ethanol plant this year and begin marketing the combined unit to U.S. ethanol plants later this year.

RenFuel & Nordic Paper to Build Biofuel Plant

Sweden is going to be the home of a new advanced biofuel pilot plant that will use lignin as the feedstock. RenFuel and Nordic Paper are citing the facility in Bäckhammar in Värmland, and the project has been granted 71 million kronor by the Swedish Energy Agency. Using lignin from the pulp industry RenFuel has developed a method to convert the renewable residual black liquor to Lignol, or lignin oil. From there, it can be used as raw material in the production of advanced biofuels replacing both gas and diesel fuels. In addition, the project aims to assist the pulp industry with a new revenue source: waste black liquor feedstock.

RenFuel CEO Sven Lignol showcases Lignol.

RenFuel CEO Sven Lignol showcases Lignol.

“Our product Lignol is key to achieving the goal of a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. It is very gratifying to finally be able to test the product on a large scale thanks to the cooperation with Nordic Paper and the funding from the Energy Agency,” said Sven Löchen, president of RenFuel.

The pilot plant, to be built at the Nordic Paper’s pulp mill in Bäckhammar, is expected to be online in early 2017. The two partners hope that Lignol will provide a significant source of bioenergy to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and help the country meet its goal’s of a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030.

Per Bjurbom, CEO of Nordic Paper, added, “The pulp and paper industry is an important link in the bio-economy. Through such cooperation, we can concretely contribute to the growing fossil-free future. It feels extremely positive.”

DuPont Honored for Cellulosic Ethanol

bdc-dupontDuPont Industrial Biosciences has been recognized by the Biorenewable Deployment Consortium (BDC) with the organization’s 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award for the company’s continuous contributions to the deployment of biochemical and advanced cellulosic biofuels.

“The Biorenewable Deployment Consortium is proud to honor DuPont with its 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award,” said BDC President and Co-Founder Masood Akhtar. “DuPont sets a strong example for others around the world who are working to expedite the transition from a petroleum-based to a biobased economy.”

“DuPont Industrial Biosciences is proud to be recognized by the Biorenewable Deployment Consortium for our work in the ever-growing bioeconomy sector. We accept this award on behalf of a global team of innovators who are focused on providing market-driven, biobased solutions to meet the needs of a growing population, while protecting our environment for future generations,” said DuPont Business Director for Cellulosic Ethanol Steve Mirshak, who received the award on DuPont’s behalf.

DuPont established the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa and with its
partner Tate & Lyle, is the leading producer of Bio-PDO®, a petroleum-free propanediol. BDC has worked toward the deployment of bio-processes since 2006 and holds two annual symposiums a year for its members.

NexSteppe CEO Anna Rath Wins BIO Award

Anna Rath Next SteppeThis year’s 2016 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award is being given to Anna Rath, CEO of NexSteppe. The award is given to an outstanding woman in the field of industrial biotechnology. According to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), who presents the honor, Rath’s work led to a biotech breakthrough. Her research is focused on developing scalable and sustainable bioenergy feedstocks. The award will be officialy presented during the 2016 World Congress taking place April 17-20, 2016 in San Diego, California.

“Much like Rosalind Franklin, Anna Rath’s passion for science and strong work ethic has led to one of the greatest breakthroughs in industrial biotechnology. Optimizing crops for renewable energy has spurred the growth of the biofuels, biopower, and biobased product industries,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “BIO is pleased to present Anna this year with the Rosalind Franklin Award and we are looking forward to her delivering what are anticipated to be inspiring remarks.”

“I’m extremely honored to be chosen for this award and flattered by the extraordinary company of former award winners,” said Rath. “NexSteppe is committed to enabling the bioeconomy by providing high-quality, cost-effective, scalable and reliable feedstocks for the entire range of biopower, biogas, advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biobased products. As the commercial scale of these industries grows, so too does the need for and focus on the availability of these sustainable and dependable raw materials. We are excited to be doing our part to help drive the continued growth and development of the bioeconomy.”

Karla Shepard Rubinger, executive director of the Rosalind Franklin Society added, “We know that this Award honors all women in science, and provides a role model for those who will no doubt follow in her footsteps, Next Steps!”

Greenbelt Explores Cuban Alt Energy Opportunities

Greenbelt Resources CEO Darren Eng recently took advantage of the new opportunities opening up between the United States and Cuba. He traveled to Havana, Cuba and while there met with several companies to discuss their exempt from embargo advanced modular technology that can produce products such as cellulosic biofuels and animal feed.

greenbelt_logo_smallEng met with a representative from the Center for Information Management and Energy Development (CUBAENERGIA), a company that provides, research-development and tech-innovation projects to companies across the country.  In addition, he met with representatives from Cubazucar, a branch of the Cuban sugar industry. During his visit Eng says he confirmed that sustainable energy development is a high priority for many major Cuban industries, in particular sugar and food production.

“The mores of Cuban business rely heavily on trust, which can only be earned in person,” said Eng. “By meeting face-to-face, we jointly overcame the myriad challenges we experienced communicating long-distance, and we reaffirmed our mutual desire to develop projects utilizing Greenbelt technology.”

Eng says a variety of factors make Greenbelt Resources uniquely suitable for government approval in the current diplomatic milieu. He notes the company is not a consumer business; their technology converts local food/farm industry wastes into local resources such as renewable fuel, animal feed and sustainable energy; and the Greenbelt local-scale model benefits small private farmers, much like small-tractor maker Cleber LLC, the first private Cuban-American company approved in Cuba.

Several factors make Special Economic Zone of Mariel (ZED Mariel) suitable for an initial deployment of Greenbelt solutions, Eng added. The sugar industry and other food producers have a strong presence in the area while businesses in the zone need a reliable source of industrial energy and fuel. In addition, he says, the government promises an accelerated review and approval process with emphasis on sustainable development.

Greenbelt Resources CFO Joe Pivinski added, “Now that we have established key relationships, and through those relationships confirmed the unique potential Cuba represents to our company our goal is to establish alliances with appropriate financial partners and funding sources to obtain capital to pursue these opportunities.”

#Classic16 Panel on #Ethanol Future

(L-R): Jack Bernens, Syngenta; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors; and Kelly Manning, Growth Energy

(L-R): Jack Bernens, Syngenta; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors; and Kelly Manning, Growth Energy

The future of fuel was the topic of an educational session hosted by Syngenta at the recent Commodity Classic in New Orleans. The event brought together leaders representing industry, ethanol producer and agricultural perspectives to discuss opportunities to grow demand for American ethanol in the wake of the EPA’s 2015 ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Growth Energy vice president for development Kelly Manning told attendees that the EPA ruling makes retail partnerships, like the industry’s Prime the Pump fund, more important than ever to grow ethanol demand. “Prime the Pump is helping high-volume, progressive-minded and industry-leading fuel retailers, who will demonstrate the performance, cost savings and profit opportunity of marketing higher ethanol blends such as E15,” said Manning.

In addition to retail partnerships, new technologies are also critical to the future of fuel. Specifically, advances in cellulosic technology are helping to make biofuels more sustainable and produce more ethanol from the same bushel of corn.

Galva, Iowa-based Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) achieved EPA certification in 2014 to generate D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for cellulosic ethanol using Cellerate™ process technology. Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of QCCP.

According to Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer at QCCP, the generation of D3 RINs helps fulfill advanced and cellulosic requirements set forth by the RFS. Issuing D3 RINs has also enabled the company to expand sales into racing and advanced biofuels markets. “With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of additional cellulosic ethanol – all from the same kernel of corn,” Johnson said. “QCCP is proud to be one of the first companies to issue D3 RINs. We look forward to higher D3 RIN requirements as new production comes on.”

Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta, noted that the company is helping in both the retail partnership and technology arenas. Last year, Syngenta announced that it will donate approximately $600,000 to the Prime the Pump Fund as part of a commitment initiated in 2013 to contribute $1 to the ethanol industry for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology.

“Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Bernens. “Syngenta recognizes the importance of retail partnerships to help grow demand for American ethanol and initiatives to help make cellulosic ethanol a reality. We believe both are key to the long-term success of the ethanol industry.

Alliance BioEnergy Touts CoProMax

Alliance BioEnergy Plus is touting the benefits of Harvesting Technology CoProMax for an ethanol plant. When combined with the ALLM CTS process, the company reports a 55 million gallon per year (mmgy) biorefinery can add more than $17 million to the bottom line to a corn ethanol plant without bringing in outside feedstock.

alliance-bioAccording to Alliance BioEnergy, the CoProMax system eliminates the production of thin stillage and utilizes a unique method to extract nearly three times the high value Distillers Corn Oil (DCO) other than what is typical with average production practices. In addition the process provides both a high protein, high fiber distillers grain (with protein levels in excess of 45 percent and containing three quarters of the available corn kernel fiber). The DDGs with high levels of corn kernel fiber can be converted through the CTS unit, extracting even more DCO and adding millions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol output says the company.

The company also says this technology eliminates the need to transport 1,000s of tons of feedstock per day saving costs. In addition, without the feedstock there is no need to add expensive material handling or pretreatment processes.

Alliance BioEnergy says the combined CTS/CoProMax system allows an existing corn ethanol plant the ability to produce cellulosic ethanol by offering both low capital and operating expenses while retaining the ability to expand and add outside feedstocks for additional cellulosic ethanol output.

UT & Genera Harvest Poplar Trees for Biofuels

Harvester works the field web

A self-propelled forage harvester with a specialized woody harvesting head harvests a 10-acre stand of hybrid poplars being studied to advance lignocellulosic biomass as part of a USDA-funded project coordinated by the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon. Photo courtesy Genera Energy Inc

University of Tennessee AgResearch Center is harvesting its first batch of popular trees to be used as biomass to create biofuels. The 10-acre plot of hybrid poplars was planted about four years ago and now the 30-foot trees are expected to produce between 60-100 tons of woody biomass. The harvest is part of a five-year $15 million multi-disciplinary research and development effort (IBSS) funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce barriers to the development of the Southeastern bioeconomy.

Tim Rials, director of the UT’s Center for Renewable Carbon said, “The goal of the IBSS partnership is to demonstrate the production of advanced biofuels from sustainable sources of lignocellulosic biomass, that is, biomass made from designed herbaceous and woody crops.” IBSS has focused on perennial switchgrass and short-rotation woody crops like eucalyptus, pine and hybrid poplar, trees that can be grown in the Southeast.

“It’s important for the industry and producers to have a portfolio of crops that can supply the cellulosic biomass for the biorefineries,” Rials continued. “Very little information is available on the performance of hybrid poplar in the Southeast. This project is designed to identify the effect of both genetic differences and management practices on the growth and yield of this potentially important energy crop. The data should provide the basis for future productivity improvements.”

The harvest included plots of several hybrid poplar varieties, called clones. Although genetic differences clearly impacted the overall yield, research has shown little difference in the chemical composition of the different hybrid poplar clones. “This information provides valuable guidance for continued enhancement of this new energy crop,” Rials said. Similar field trials, some with the same varieties, are also underway in Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina to evaluate environmental impacts on biomass yield. Continue reading