January 19, 2007 | General

Cellulosic Ethanol — Major Players

BioCycle January 2007, Vol. 48, No. 1, p. 48

THE article, “Realities, Opportunities For Cellulosic Ethanol,” (page 46, January 2007 BioCycle) discusses Iogen Corporation’s plans for a large-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. Iogen has succeeded in attracting significant investments for its ventures, e.g., Goldman Sachs recently invested $30 million for a minority stake in the company. Other major players in the cellulosic ethanol marketplace include the following companies:
In Salamanca, Spain, Abengoa S.A is building a demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant slated for completion in spring 2007. The plant will have the capacity to produce two million gallons of ethanol/year from wheat straw.
Abengoa Bioenergy, a subsidiary of Abengoa SA, recently invested $10 million and entered into a three-year research and development effort with Dyadic International to develop cost-effective enzymes for commercial cellulosic ethanol applications. The company is also collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy on developing enzymatic hydrolysis processes and optimizing dry mill technology in order to integrate agricultural residues into existing ethanol facilities. A biomass facility, demonstrating the technology, is being built at the same site as one of the company’s grain-based ethanol facility in York, Nebraska.
BlueField Ethanol announced plans to build a 24 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant at a landfill site in southern California. Instead of utilizing enzymatic hydrolysis to break down cellulosic ethanol feedstocks, BlueFire will employ acid hydrolysis to pretreat 700 tons of municipal solid waste for conversion into ethanol. The company expects to expand to other landfill sites in California, with the goals of producing 1.5 million gallons of ethanol by 2012.
Broin is planning on converting the Voyager Ethanol facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa from a conventional ethanol facility into a 125 million-gallon “biorefinery” producing ethanol from corn, corn fiber and stover. Construction of the $200 million facility is slated to begin in 2007 and be completed by 2009. The company also announced partnerships with Novozymes, a biotech company developing enzymes for biomass to cellulosic ethanol production, and DuPont to produce next generation processes and technologies for ethanol from biomass.
Celunol, formerly known as BC International, will begin operation of a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility in Osaka, Japan in January 2007. The facility will utilize wood wastes to produce 1.3 million liters of ethanol. A planned expansion in 2008 will increase capacity to 4 million liters per year. The company’s demonstration cellulosic ethanol facility in Jenning, Louisiana, which began operation in 2006, will be expanded from 50,000 gallons/year to 1.4 million gallons/year in mid 2007.
Greenfield Ethanol, Canada’s leading ethanol producer, and SunOpta Inc. are partnering to build a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Ontario or Quebec. The plant is expected to produce 40 million liters (about 10 million gallons) of cellulosic ethanol from wood chips.
Mascoma Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a biotechnology company developing cellulosic biomass conversion technologies, recently raised $30 million in a second round of financing. In December, Mascoma was awarded $14.8 million from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to construct a cellulosic ethanol plant in Rochester, New York. The 15,000-sq-ft facility will utilize agricultural and forest biomass feedstocks including paper sludge, wood chips, switch grass and corn stover. Mascoma is developing the project as a joint venture with Tamarack Energy, Inc. of Essex, Connecticut. Genencor is partnering with Mascoma on the project to supply the enzymes.
Xethanol Corporation has purchased a manufacturing complex in Augusta, Georgia, which will become the site for a cellulosic ethanol plant producing 50 million gallons/year of ethanol from a variety of feedstocks, including biomass waste streams generated by industrial producers in the area. Another recent acquisition, a former fiberboard factory in Spring Hope, North Carolina, will be reopened in 2007 as a pilot plant demonstrating the feasibility and economic viability of using wood chips as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.

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