Abengoa Consolidates Position As Technological Leader
Seville, Spain (SPX) Feb 25, 2011
The knowledge and experience acquired following the start-up of the second generation bioethanol pilot production plant in Babilafuente in 2009, located in the Biocombustibles de Castilla y Leon (BCyL) plant in Salamanca, has given Abengoa a leading position in the production of lignocellulosic ethanol.
The project, which received financing for its construction and start-up through the European Commission's 5th Framework Program, currently has an annual production capacity of 5 million litres, and uses wheat and maize straw as its raw material.
Since it was launched, the Babilafuente pilot plant has completed more than 5,500 hours of operations with a yield of 200 litres per tonne of straw, fermenting exclusively from the cellulose.
The plant's target is to achieve a yield higher than 300 litres/tonne, as well as to ferment sugars with five carbon atoms (C5), opening the door to the next stage in the technological evolution of the process.
The biocatalysts and enzymes used are so important to the production of ethanol from biomass that the company has established a specific research line (the Enzyme Development Technological Program) to develop more effective and optimized enzymes to reduce consumption and therefore to reduce their financial impact on the process.
In fact, some of the enzymes used in Babilafuente are produced by Abengoa, making it the only company with the capacity to prove their functional capabilities under industrial conditions.
These results demonstrate the feasibility of the enzymatic hydrolysis technology, which the company has been working on for a long time and has made major investments in. Abengoa intends to put this technology into practice on a commercial scale at the plant that it will construct in Hugoton, Kansas (USA), which will have an annual capacity of 100 million litres.
This project, which is being jointly developed with the US Department of Energy (DOE), will become the largest commercial bioethanol production plant using biomass to date, enabling approximately 135,000 tonnes of CO2 to be saved every year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 35,000 cars.
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