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Global Bioenergies announce first success in Isobutene scale-up process at Leuna Demo plant

Global Bioenergies has announced that it has succeeded in producing Isobutene by fermentation at the scale of its Leuna Demo plant in Germany with run length and performances exceeding those performed on the pilot plant in Pomacle, France.

Fermentation unit of Global Bioenergies Leuna biomass-to-isobutene demo plant (photo Gunter Binsack).

Fermentation unit of Global Bioenergies Leuna biomass-to-isobutene demo plant (photo Gunter Binsack).

France-headed biochemical process developer Global Bioenergies has announced that it has succeeded in producing Isobutene by fermentation at the scale of its Leuna Demo plant in Germany, a 5 000 litre fermenter, with run length and performances exceeding those performed on the pilot plant in Pomacle, France, a 500 litre fermenter.

– The direct production of gaseous Isobutene by fermentation is a novel field which we are pioneering. It was far from certain that we would be able to so quickly replicate at the scale of the demo plant the results achieved in smaller volumes, said Ales Bulc, Managing Director of the German subsidiary of Global Bioenergies.

Success in this phase of the process’ scale up was obtained less than five months after start-up of the fermentation unit at the Leuna Demo plant, in December 2016. This success is an important milestone on the critical path to large scale operation of the Isobutene process.

– Today, the process is still below commercial metrics and our efforts over the coming months will focus on improving productivity, said Rick Bockrath, VP Chemical Engineering.

The company also announced that the purification unit has also received the approval from the TÜV, the principal certification body in Germany.

– New strains and new protocols associated with improved performances have recently been identified in the laboratory. They will soon be transferred to the Demo plant, said Denis Thibaut, Fermentation Manager.

After commissioning of the filling station, the Demo plant will be fully certified for operation. Delivery to partners of the first batches of Isobutene for testing is expected in June timeframe.

– One of our major objectives for 2017 will be to come closer to commercial performances at Leuna Demo plant. We will then have a mature process, ready to be transferred to the future commercial plants, said Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies.

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