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Chementator: A Cellulosic-Ethanol Demonstration Plant Enters Startup Phase    

By Gerald Ondrey |

Verenium Corp. (formerly Celunol; Cambridge, Mass.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/7372-537) is starting up a 1.4-million gal/yr demonstration-scale facility at Jennings, La., which will produce ethanol from regional feedstocks (including sugarcane bagasse and specially bred "energy cane") via proprietary cellulosic-ethanol technology. The technology was originally developed at the University of Florida, then exclusively licensed to, and further developed by, Verenium. The process has also been demonstrated at BioEthanol’s 1.4-million L/yr facility in Osaka, Japan, which started up last year ( CE, March 2007, p. 13), and is scheduled to scale up to 4-million L/yr this year. In Verenium’s process (flowsheet), biomass is first hydrolyzed by acid into a hemicellulose syrup (xylose and other C5 sugars) and fiber residue (cellulose and lignin). The two streams are separated and individually fermented into dilute ethanol (beer) using proprietary bacteria. The cellulose fermentation uses commercial enzymes that are produced onsite by a fungus that can be "trained" to handle a given biomass. The beer from both fermentation streams is subsequently concentrated into fuel-grade ethanol by distillation. Biomass residue…
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