Süd-Chemie AG, one of the leading specialty chemical companies for catalysts and adsorbents based in Munich is to build Germany´s largest plant to date for the production of climate-friendly, second-generation bioethanol, so-called cellulose ethanol, based on biotechnological processes.
The total project has a volume of altogether 28 million Euros and comprises an investment volume of some 16 million Euros and accompanying research projects amounting to approximately 12 million Euros. These and additional related research projects will be subsidised by the Bavarian State Government and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with approximately 5 million Euros spectively.
As from the end of 2011, this large-scale demonstration plant, located in the immediate vicinity of the new Bavarian Bio- Campus in Straubing, will produce up to 2000 to/a of bioethanol fuel from agricultural waste, such as cereal straw.
„By launching construction of this demonstration plant for our so-called sunliquid technology, we continue to pursue our strategy of developing to market maturity sustainable manufacturing processes for climate-friendly biofuels and chemicals, based on leading expertise in the fields of catalysis, biocatalysis and process engineering. In view of the increasing expense and risks involved in excavating oil, we are making a significant contribution to providing a sustainable substitute for oil-based products,“ said Süd-Chemie AG´s Managing Board Chairman, Dr. Günter von Au.
„Compared with the first-generation biofuels already in use today, for instance biodiesel, which consist of fuel extracted from plant material containing oil and starch, second-generation biofuels like cellulose ethanol offer considerable advantages. Firstly, they have much better climate and energy balances, since their potential for reducing CO2 emission is, for instance, significantly higher. Secondly, they do not compete with the cultivation of either food or animal feed,“ continued Dr. von Au.
The sunliquid process, which Süd-Chemie has been testing in a pilot plant since the beginning of 2009, is an method of producing second-generation bioethanol in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. To this end, cellulose-based plant residue, such as wheat straw or maize straw, bagasse from sugar cane or so-called energy crops, are initially converted into sugar constituents with the aid of enzymes generated using biotechnology. Bioethanol is subsequently extracted from these constituents and used as fuel. In the case of Süd-Chemie´s process, not only the cellulose contained in plants, but also the so-called hemicellulose can be converted into ethanol, making it possible to increase ethanol production by up to fifty percent compared with conventional technology. Furthermore, the enzymes needed to convert the cellulose can be optimised depending on the original raw materials used and produced directly on the spot in each production plant. This guarantees an optimal enzyme supply, being both highly efficient and cost-effective.
Süd-Chemie´s demonstration plant located in Straubing will represent a scaled-down version of the entire integrated manufacturing process required to convert cellulosic plant residue into bioethanol.