ABINGDON, UK – Green Biologics Limited, a UK-based industrial biotechnology company with pilot-scale facilities and offices in Columbus, OH, has announced a collaboration and planned investment in facilities with Easy Energy Systems Inc. (Easy Energy), Welcome, MN. The collaboration will result in the modification of Easy Energy’s ethanol demonstration plant in Emmetsburg, IA, to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone.
In mid-2012, GBL successfully produced butanol and acetone from corn mash at the Emmetsburg facility in Iowa at a 40,000-liter fermentation scale.
“We ran three separate batches in July 2012, which matched results in both total solvent production and n-butanol yields that were achieved in our UK laboratories and at our Columbus, Ohio pilot facility,” said Sean Sutcliffe, CEO of Green Biologics. “From these demonstration runs we have validated fermentation performance at scale, meeting our commercial targets.”
Sutcliffe notes that the Easy Energy deal provides Green Biologics with significant demonstration capability at a fraction of the cost of a green-field demonstration plant.
“We plan to make significant investments in feedstock preparation, processing and product storage as well as process control,” said Sutcliffe. “But more importantly, we plan to scale our proprietary (patent pending) advanced fermentation process at demonstration scale. In addition, the facility will have the capability to allow us to scale and demonstrate the use of cellulosic biomass as a sugar source for renewable butanol production.”
In May 2013, Green Biologics successfully demonstrated its advanced fermentation process at pilot scale in Gahanna, OH. “This technology capitalizes on the unique characteristics of Green Biologics’s advanced biocatalysts and provides a doubling of butanol production productivity compared to existing processes with a modest incremental capital investment,” said Patrick Simms, Chief Operating Officer for GBL’s North American business. “In less than 12 months, our development teams in the UK and Ohio moved from concept to successful pilot demonstration. We are now scaling to 80,000 liters in Iowa.”
The scale-up work being undertaken in the United States complements commercial-scale demonstration work already achieved in China. In 2011, Green Biologics partnered with Laihe Rockley Biochemical Ltd. in Songyuan, China, and in 2012 produced the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic n-butanol from residual corn waste (corn shells, corn cobs and stover). The Chinese commercial trial run was completed in June 2012 at 3.2-million liter fermentation scale in one of three 50,000 tonne/year production units. In November 2012, Green Biologics imported 55 tonnes of cellulosic n-butanol to the United States and is now marketing the material for chemical applications.