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Supercritical water process converts biomass to sugars

By Scott Jenkins |

Sugar is a critical feedstock for many emerging bio-based-chemical and biofuel processes, but harvesting sugar from low-value, nonfood biomass cost-effectively and at large scale remains a challenge. Renmatix Inc. (King of Prussia, Pa.; www.renmatix.com) has developed a process that uses water above its critical temperature and pressure to hydrolyze a range of biomass materials to make C5 and C6 sugars. Unveiled at an event last month, the Renmatix process, known as Plantrose, offers what may be the lowest-cost approach to supplying sugar for the growing bio-chemical and renewable-fuel markets. Waste biomass   Sugar liquor product The company currently converts three dry-tons per day of waste hardwood chips into sugar at a demonstration facility in Kennesaw, Ga. Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton says the company will announce next year the location of a planned commercial-scale facility that will be capable of producing 100,000 ton/yr of sugar. The first plant may be co-located with a bio-based chemicals maker that can use the sugar from Renmatix’s process. The Plantrose process is built around a supercritical hydrolysis platform, which capitalizes on the ability of supercritical water (SCW) to depolymerize…
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