Biofuel, Investments

Green Biologics buys ethanol plant

Commercialization of cellulosic n-butanol is bubbling near the surface as the Brazil-based partnership Granbio/Rhodia recently recently announced plans to build the world’s first biomass-based n-butanol plant in Brazil that will start in 2015, while UK-based Green Biologics announced yesterday its planned acquisitions of all of Central MN Ethanol Co-op’s (CMEC) assets in Little Falls, Minnesota.

The CMEC- Green Biologics transaction is expected to close in 2014. If they’re fast enough in closing the deal, Green Biologics could catch up with Granbio/Rhodia on who’s going to build the world’s first biomass-based n-butanol plant.

CMEC’s plant in Little Falls annually purchases 7.5m bushels of corn and produces 23m gallons of corn-based ethanol. The plant also generates revenue from ethanol co-products including dried distillers grain, wet distillers grain, corn oil and syrup.

While the negotiation is being held, corn purchases, ethanol and co-product production will continue in full force, CMEC said.

Now there is not that much information about Green Biologics’ plans in producing biobased n-butanol at the Little Falls plant. How much biobased n-butanol that can be produced will depend on Green Biologics’ bugs out of cellulosic feedstock. The company has already produced 55 tons of corn waste-based n-butanol last year coming from China through its partnership with Laihe Rockley. The bio-butanol was reportedly sold out mostly for customers’ testing purposes.

In July, Green Biologics has scaled up a cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Iowa owned by Easy Energy. The demo plant has about 80,000 liter fermentation (21,100 gal) capacity, which uses corn mash for feedstock. The Easy Energy facility does not produced finished bio-butanol product but instead it is being used to demonstrate and validate Green Biologics’ fermentation performance at scale to meet their commercial targets.

Hopefully we will get more information on plans for the CMEC Little Falls facility.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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