Apologies for the silence yesterday as I was (and still am) in the middle of a big project. Some of you might already know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, the biobased butanol industry is teeming with capacity scale-up with Gevo already commercially producing bio-isobutanol in Luverne, Minn.; Cathay Industrial Biotech already has commercial production facility for corn-based n-butanol in Jillin, China; Cobalt Technologies announced in April the successful scale-up of its biobased n-butanol pilot production; and yesterday, Green Biologics (GBL) announced that it has partnered with biofuel technology developer Easy Energy Systems to build a demonstration facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa, for the production of biobased n-butanol and acetone.
The companies will modify Easy Energy’s current ethanol demonstration plant, which uses corn mash for feedstock. According to GBL, it has already successfully produced bio-butanol and acetone at the Iowa facility with a 40,000 liter fermentation scale in mid-2012. The demonstration runs reportedly validated GBL’s fermentation performance at scale to meet their commercial targets.
GBL now plans to scale-up production to 80,000 liters (around 21,100 gallons) in Iowa, The company said the modified facility will allow GBL to scale and demonstrate the use of cellulosic biomass for bio-butanol production. Costs to modify the facility are also much lower compared to building a green field demo plant.
GBL plans significant investment in feedstock preparation, processing, product storage and process control. The company claims its advanced biocatalysts provides doubling of butanol production productivity with modest capital investment compared to existing ABE (acetone-butanol-ethanol) processes.
Last year, Green Biologics has already co-produced cellulosic-based n-butanol in Songyuan, China, with its partner Laihe Rockley Biochemical using corn waste for feedstock. The Chinese commercial trial run was completed in June 2012 at 3.2m liter fermentation scale in Laihe Rockley’s one of three 50 ktpy units. Green Biologics imported 55 tons of the cellulosic n-butanol to the US in November last year and is now marketing sample materials for chemical applications such as in food/flavors, aromas, personal care and industrial cleaning products.
Finally about Easy Energy Systems, the company has this technology called Modular Energy Production Systems (MEPS) that converts waste and other feedstocks into biofuel. The Emmetsburg facility was already able to produce cellulosic ethanol using waste paper. Easy Energy designs, manufactures and sells the MEPS units.