“The Cellulosic Ethanol – Where are We Today and Where Will Be Tomorrow” panel started off the Advanced Biofuels and Biorefinery Platforms Track at the 2016 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.
Steve Hartig from ICM kicked off the panel by providing an overview of the current challenges in scaling up production of cellulosic ethanol. While large-scale cellulosic ethanol from crop residues is seeing challenges in financing and logistics, continued advancements in technology will allow us to overcome these hurdles in the coming years.
ICM’s progress on corn fiber cellulosic ethanol and cellulosic ethanol from crop wastes areovercoming the challenges surrounding the development second-generation ethanol. Corn fiber ethanol is a robust solution for maximizing the cellulosic gallons compared to other approaches. It is able to build off the existing infrastructure reducing costs and utilizes a feedstock that they are familiar in collecting and storing. This technology brings about 7 to 10 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from a 100 million gallon corn ethanol plant and could bring up to 1 billion gallons across the U.S.
Murray McLauglin from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada focused on their work in developing an economic, long-term sustainable and reliable supply of feedstock for the cellulosic sugar supply chain. Starting from the farm to the end user, the continued development and industrialization of supply chains is critical in developing cellulosic biorefineries. Bioindustrial Innovation Canada is working to foster collaboration and partnerships in this space, which is critical to the development of any new technology.
Martin Mitchell from Clariant focused on how their technology, the sunliquid process overcomes the challenges of scaling up a cellulosic biorefinery. Their technology converts lignocellulosic agricultural residues, such as cereal straw into a cellulosic ethanol or other biobased chemicals in away that is highly efficient, economic and sustainable.
Clariant works to reduce the costs of developing cellulosic ethanol with integrated enzyme production from the cellulosic material itself to, resulting in lower enzyme costs and making the plan independent from external process. As a result sunliquid ethanol can compete with first-generation ethanol and reduced greenhouse gas emission by 95% when compare to fossil fuels. Clariant is also partnering with Mercedes-Benz in running vehicles on 20 percent cellulosic ethanol to help increase the market for biofuels. Clariant is looking beyond the fuels market for its cellulosic ethanol, selling to Werner & Mertz for the production of Natural Bio Spirit Glass & Multi-Surface Cleaner.
Yinbo Qu from Shandong University wrapped up the panel on the potential of biomass derived from wastes have the potential for developing cellulosic ethanol. Highlighting the example of the Chinese pulp and paper company, Shandon Tranlin Group has developed a set of technologies to produce pulp and paper from about a million tons of waste straw. Utilizing these agricultural residues will help reduce the costs of developing these fuels. This has allowed the company to move forward with the development of a pilot plant and working to scale up a commercial scale facility.