China Achieves Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol Plants with Global Technology

Clariant, the world’s leading specialty chemical companies based in Switzerland and Anhui Guozhen Group, a Chinese green energy company, and Chemtex Chemical Engineering, a multinational engineering company, have signed a license agreement on sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology. And, they agreed to form a joint venture with the aim of realizing a full scale commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues. In this framework, Clariant has granted a license for its sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology to the joint venture.

By developing sunliquid® technology, Clariant has cleared the way for cellulosic biofuels. Its process converts lignocellulosic agricultural residues, such as cereal straw, into cellulosic ethanol or other biobased chemicals in a way that is highly efficient, extremely economic, energy-neutral and sustainable. Its key technology is based on feedstockspecific biocatalysts, which efficiently provide access to the sugars contented in the straw, an integrated enzyme production, simultaneous C5 and C6 fermentation and an energy-saving ethanol separation method. This gives rise to an efficient, extremely economic and therefore competitive process for the production of cellulosic ethanol.

The project development and plant operation will be executed by the jointventure at a greenfield site in Fuyang city in the Anhui province, in the Yangtze-Huai River region in East China, utilizing available land, owned by the Anhui Guozhen Group, and existing infrastructure network in the surrounding. The annual plant production capacity is planned to be 50.000 tons of cellulosic ethanol, with an option to double the capacity in a second phase (50.000 tons in each phase), making it one of the largest in China so far. Detailed project evaluations and preparations for the engineering phase are well underway. The project execution is pending a final agreement of certain government contracts for the project.

“For Clariant, China represents a core growth market where we want to further strengthen our position. The country is aiming to achieve a 10 percent bioethanol content in transportation fuels nationwide in the next few years. These regulatory commitments offer substantial growth potential for our sunliquid technology by spurring demand for advanced biofuels,” said Hans Bohnen, Clariant’s chief operating officer. “Hence, the signing of a sunliquid technology license with two renowned Chinese players is an important strategic milestone to seize those promising business opportunities.”

“Guozhen intends to be a pioneer and invest in the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in China. We are looking forward to work with Clariant and Chemtex, two well experienced companies to contribute to China’s environmental and ecological advance,” emphasized Li Wei, founder and chairman of the Board of Guozhen Group.

*The Clariant’s sunliquid® process is designed for industrial plants with a production capacity of 50,000 to 150,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

The Agricultural residues are converted to cellulosic ethanol by Sunliquid® Technology

“As a global industrial solution provider in biofuels, chemicals, polymers, fibers and gas processing, Chemtex has extensive experience in partnering with reputed technology licensors particularly in the Chinese market. Through these partnerships Chemtex gained significant knowledge worldwide in first generation and cellulosic ethanol projects. In China, we have been active for more than 40 years and realized over 100 plants. This experience will make a major contribution to the collaboration between Anhui Guozhen, Clariant and Chemtex for the first Chinese commercial cellulosic ethanol project to succeed,” adds Sean Ma, chairman and CEO of Chemtex.

For the Anhui region this signifies a noteworthy investment in green, sustainable technologies. The area is very much characterized by agriculture, which guarantees the abundance of feedstock for the cellulosic ethanol plant. By locally sourced feedstock, in that case wheat straw and corn stover, greenhouse gas savings can be maximized and additional business opportunities along the entire value and supply chain will arise. The produced cellulosic ethanol will be utilized in the Chinese regional fuels market as blend into gasoline to fulfill the national blending mandate. Cellulosic ethanol produced with sunliquid saves around 95 percent of greenhouse gases compared to gasoline.

The Clariant’s Sunliquid® process is now fully developed, being designed for industrial plants with a production capacity of 50,000 to 150,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Clariant provides the know-how and technology for all unit operations on a turnkey basis, coupled with the expertise required for successful implementation, and opens up new opportunities on the booming global market for second-generation biofuels. The potential is enormous – in the EU alone, around 25% of the demand for petrol could, according to various studies, be met by sustainably produced cellulosic ethanol as early as 2020.

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