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Page added on May 24, 2012

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Brazil’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant

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Cellulosic biomass technology developer GraalBio is planning to help build Brazil’s biorefinery industry with a R$300m ($146m) investment of a new 22m gallons/year cellulosic ethanol plant to be constructed in Alagoas using sugarcane bagasse and straw for initial feedstock.

GraalBio is also developing a new type of cost-competitive biomass called Energy Cane, a cross hybrid of sugarcane varieties with selected types of grasses producing low sugar content but high fiber. An experimental site in Alagoas is expected to produce 100,000 Energy Cane seedlings by the end of the year. The company is hoping to achieve productivity target of 100 tons of dry mass/hectare.

GraalBio said the cellulosic ethanol facility will be Brazil’s first. Construction is expected to start in July and start-up of operations is expected by the end of 2013. For pretreatment and conversion of biomass, GraalBio has licensed the PROESA technology from Italy-based Beta Renewables – a joint venture between Chemtex (a division of Italian plastic producer Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi) and investment firm TPG.

Chemtex will provide engineering services, equipment and technical field services to GraalBio’s facility. Dutch firms Novozymes and DSM will provide the enzymes and industrial yeasts, respectively.

By the way, Novozymes said it has been looking for locations in Brazil to build its new enzyme manufacturing plants dedicated to support the country’s growing advanced biofuel industry.

“The location of new plants will, among other things, depend on where the industry is expected to scale up, where Novozymes’ partners are located, and where the best framework conditions exist,” says Peder Holk Nielsen, Novozymes VP.

GraalBio said it will also expand the use of its Energy Cane biomass into the bio-based chemicals field. The company is also building a pilot plant in Campinas this year for the development of new biochemical pathways using PROESA. By 2017, GraalBio said it hopes to build five facilities for the production of biobased chemicals in Brazil using modified Brazilian yeasts.

“While the maturity of second-generation biofuels technologies in Brazil is materializing, the U.S. is building 29 biorefineries for several products obtained from the conversion of cellulose. GraalBio is in negotiations with patent holders to license, purchase and apply industrial solutions in Brazil, and it will look for partners in Brazil in different areas, including co-development, supply of feedstock and new projects.” – GraalBio


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7 Comments on "Brazil’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant"

  1. dsula on Thu, 24th May 2012 8:24 pm 

    Wait a minute, I was told bio fuels are no good.

  2. BillT on Fri, 25th May 2012 2:05 am 

    dsula, they aren’t. This is an ad by the industry to get ‘investors’. More “is planning”, “an experimental site”, etc. More propaganda by the ‘alternate’ industry.

  3. MrEnergyCzar on Fri, 25th May 2012 2:50 am 

    Whats the EROEI? or net energy?

    MrEnergyCzar

  4. Peter on Fri, 25th May 2012 9:07 am 

    Cellulosic bio fuels have potential. The sugar based “corn ethanol” plants have close to zero EROEI. I too would like to know what the EROEI for this.

  5. Kenz300 on Fri, 25th May 2012 1:02 pm 

    Second generation biofuels are the future. They can be made from algae, cellulose and waste.

    We can now make biofuels from waste or trash. Every landfill can be converted to make biofuels, energy (methane) and raw materials for new products. Since the materials are already being collected they can provide inexpensive inputs to the process. It will provide local energy and local jobs for the community. The world produces a lot of trash every day. Using that trash to produce biofuels is a more sustainable way to deal with the waste.

  6. BillT on Fri, 25th May 2012 2:23 pm 

    Kenz, biofuels are NOT energy sources, they are energy carriers. Their EROEI will keep them from ever being more than a small percentage of liquid fuels. They are limited by the very materials that it takes to make them.

    Think about where oil is used in the process, from the metals that go into the machines necessary to the oil used to grow and harvest the waste. As if there is unlimited billions of tons of waste available to make them work on any significant level.

    We burn 4 1/2 BILLION tons of coal per year. That means, to replace coal with biofuels from waste, etc, would require each person to generate about 1 ton of usable waste per year and 100% of it to go into refineries with no loss. Not going to happen and that is to just replace coal.

    If you want to replace the 33 BILLION Barrels of oil we use every year, you need another 3/4 ton of the same waste from every one of 7 billion people to replace the energy in that oil with biofuels.

    If we factor in natural gas, nuclear, etc. Soon you need 3-4 tons of algae/waste per person (7,000,000,000 of us) per year at probably 1 million plants scattered all over the earth so that it does not have to be hauled very far or EROEI quickly goes to 1:1. Game Over!

  7. salsaman on Sun, 27th May 2012 12:23 am 

    EROEI of sugar cane ethanol is currently about 8:1.

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