Changing How We Fuel the World

The cellulosic ethanol team collaborated across multiple sites, functions and organizational structures to develop and scale up a novel, integrated technology package to produce ethanol from agricultural wastes such as corn stover and energy crops such as switchgrass.

The technology enables entry into a new high growth market and contributes to the reduction of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.  The team successfully scaled the process technology to a 250,000 gallon per year demonstration plant in Vonore, Tennessee which is being used to develop our first commercial scale facility in 2013.

Life Cycle Analysis was used extensively to understand the impact of various process scenarios and to guide decisions, incorporating not just “inside the plant gate” processes, but with the help of Michigan State University, also the feedstock production and harvest steps.

An external life cycle advisory panel was formed to provide third party perspective on the analyses. The process developed enables hydrolysis and fermentation operations to be carried out at higher solids, reducing cost and capital, and lowering the energy burden associated with distillation to recover the final product.

The team further developed a unique set of hydrolysis enzymes and particular blends of those enzymes, which attack the critical bonds in both cellulose and hemicellulose thereby increasing process yields by approximately 30% or more while reducing enzyme dosing requirements by as much as half. 

Grant Recipient:  The team has chosen the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, in memory of Georg Anderl, as the grant recipient.