Process innovation relevant to advanced biofuels and bioenergy production


Various innovative technologies and process innovations can be used in the production of biofuels to improve efficiency, boot yields, overcome technical issues and reduce operating costs. Examples include:

Ethanol/corn oil production process

Cellerate Process Technology is a new process technology designed to enable dry grind ethanol plants to convert corn kernel fiber into advanced and cellulosic ethanol, increasing a plant’s ethanol production.

TransFerm Yield+ developed by Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits and Mascoma LLC Lallemand (US Patent: 8,956,851 B2) is an advanced strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that expresses glucoamylase (GA) enzyme and reduces glycerol production. It is used in the production of fuel ethanol from liquefied grains. Fuel ethanol production facilities using TransFerm Yield+ may experience a yield gain of up to 4% in ethanol, a reduction in glycerol of approximately 30% and may reduce separately purchased GA enzyme. The technology is curently used in ~50 ethanol plants.

ICM Fiber Separation Technology™ removes fibre during ethanol processing, allowing increased ethanol and oil recovery yields.

Solenis is developing chemical additives to improve the separation of corn oil in the ethanol production process, greatly increasing the volume of oil produced and reducing the amount of solids in the oil (Patent No. US 8,841,469 B2).

U.S. Water offers a COR™ additive designed to increase the removal of corn oil from mechanical separation systems at dry-mill ethanol plants

Flow cavitation process (CFC) developed by Arisdyne Systems Inc. can increase yields in corn ethanol production. Powerful cavitation forces completely fracture the corn structure particles, exposing additional entrapped starch molecules within the cellular structure, thus enhancing hydrolyzed enzymatic efficiency in the “mash”. Arisdyne has also developed technology for improved removal of phosphatide "gums" in vegetable oil refining.

Catalytic membane reactors and related technologies

Demcamer - an FP7 project to develop innovative multifunctional Catalytic Membrane Reactors (CMR) based on new nano-architectured catalysts and selective membranes materials to improve their performance, durability, cost effectiveness and sustainability (lower environmental impact and use of new raw materials) over four selected chemical processes (Autothermal Reforming (ATR), Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS), Water Gas Shift (WGS), and Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM)) for pure hydrogen, liquid hydrocarbons and ethylene production.

FLUIDCELL - The FLUIDCELL project aims at the Proof of Concept of an advanced high performance, cost effective bio-ethanol m-CHP FC system for decentralized off-grid, by improving technology developments from previous EU projects. The improvements will be achieved by development of a) better system integration using a fluidized bed catalytic membrane reactor working at low temperature (<500°C) b)innovative materials;Pd pore filled (PdPF) membrane, low temperature autothermal ethanol steam reforming (AESR) catalysits and c) most advance FC technologies. Low temperature allows lower thermal duty, higher compactness, use of less expensive materials and long term stability.

SusFuelCat - Sustainable fuel production from wet biomass with new catalysts. SusFuelCat aims to improve the production of hydrogen from wet biomass using the process of  aqueous phase reforming. The aim is to develop New catalytic materials that are stable, decrease production costs and improve the yield of hydrogen.

Pass through distillation and related technologies

Pass through distillation - a novel technology offering low-energy distillation at room temperature.

Drystill has invented a disruptive and revolutionary, chemical- separation platform, based on thermally-integrated, evaporation and gas absorption (TIEGA™) principles. This low temperature / low energy distillation process (demonstrated at pilot scale) offers potential cost and energy savings for production of first and second genertaion biofuels. At the heart of Drystill’s technology is its novel, patented apparatus called a stripper/absorption module (SAM).

Bioenergy/'biocoal' technology

Rotawave produces microwave processors that can be used in various bioenergy applications, for example Targeted Intelligent Energy System (TIES), a processor that transforms biomass into a consistent quality biocoal.

Potential applications of nanotechnology in bioenergy

Potential applications of nanotechnology in bioenergy - a Masters thesis by Jason Kramb, Department of Physics, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The major nanotechnology areas which were reviewed are nanostructured coatings (wear resistant, corrosion resistant, low friction and anti-icing), nanomembranes for gas separation, nanostructured catalysts for emission reductions, thermoelectrics and thermophotovoltaics. Basic economic analyses were also performed to determine conditions for economic viability of the nanotechnology solutions. Currently nanotechnologies are too costly to be implimented for large-scale bioenergy production but could be applied in the future.