Edeniq's Corn to Cellulosic Migration (CCM) Refinery, California, United States of America
Edeniq's Corn to Cellulosic Migration (CCM) Pilot Refinery at Visalia in California was officially inaugurated in June 2012. The technology used for the project is expected to be commercialised in 2013.
The pilot plant is located about 72km south-east of Fresno. The site currently employs about 43 experts. The CCM pilot refinery created about 11 jobs.
The total investment in the refinery was $25m. The plant currently enables two tons of feedstock to be converted to cellulosic sugars on a daily basis and produces 50 gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually.
Edeniq has undertaken the project to meet the production requirements of biofuels and cellulose under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) programme which aims at increasing the use of renewable fuel for automobiles. Biofuels produced using the latest state-of-the-art facilities at the refinery will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the use of petroleum.
Development of cellulosic ethanol technology
Edeniq has been involved in the development of cellulosic ethanol technology since 2006. It constructed a pilot plant in 2008 to convert agricultural waste into ethanol.
The CCM project comprised of retrofitting and modifying the existing pilot plant to accommodate CCM technology for converting cellulosic feedstock into ethanol.
Process equipment for the plant were skid mounted and manufactured in Michigan by Andy Egan. The plant was also installed with a distillation tower, tanks and pumps, while the existing laboratory was renovated.
Edeniq technology used in the refinery
The pilot plant implements Edeniq's patented technologies, which include a mechanical pretreatment process trademarked as Cellunator, enzymes for converting cellulose to sugars and patented yeasts for fermenting sugar to ethanol.
The Cellunator technology was developed in collaboration with IKA. The mechanical pretreatment using this process requires no acids, bases, pressure or high temperature.
The technology enables the breaking down of feedstock to the required size, allowing more starch to be discharged compared to conventional technologies.
The resizing of the starch particles provides an increased surface area for the next step of saccharification, where enzymes are used for converting the starch into sugar. The final step in the process is the fermentation of the sugar using yeasts to convert it into ethanol. Using Cellunator technology increases the plant's yield by five percent.
Feedstock used for the plant includes corn stover, wood chips, sugarcane bagasse and switch grass. Corn stover is being supplied by Next Step Biofuels, while Ceres Technology is providing switchgrass. Wood chips used are being collected from the neighbouring areas in central California.
Funding and DoE grant details
Edeniq and Logos received a $20.4m grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) in December 2009 for the construction of the CCM Pilot Refinery. The remaining funds were provided by Evoniq.
The fund from the DOE's Integrated Biorefinery Program came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which aims to save and create jobs in response to the recession in the late 2000s.
The project was also awarded an additional grant of $3.9m in June 2012 by the California Energy Commission under the California's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.
Contractors involved with Edeniq's CCM refinery
The project was realised through the collaboration between Edeniq and Logos Technologies. Logos Technologies was entrusted with the project management. It also provided engineering support and undertook the project life-cycle analysis. Edeniq undertook the modification and engineering works and is responsible for the operations of the pilot plant. Other contractors involved with the project were Novozymes, Ceres, USDA Forest Products Laboratories and U. California-Davis.
Marketing commentary for the company
Edeniq is headquartered in Visalia, California. The company has a presence in Omaha, Nebraska and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Flint Hills invested in the company in May 2012, to use the cellulator milling equipment in one of its four corn-based ethanol plants in Iowa.
The cellulator milling equipment has also been fitted in Plymouth Energy's corn ethanol facility and Aemetis's Advanced Fuels Keyes plant in California.
Major investors such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, The Wesley Group, Cyrus Capital and Draper Fisher Jurvetson provide financing to Edeniq.
DuPont's cellulosic ethanol biorefinery is a pre-commercial facility in Vonore in Tennessee, the US.
Spain-based sustainable technology company Abengoa Bioenergy (Abengoa) is constructing a commercial scale integrated biorefinery.
Verdezyne started up a pilot scale adipic acid (ADA) plant in Carlsbad, in the state of California in the US, in November 2011.