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Aemetis launches “Carbon Zero” production plants

US-headed advanced renewable fuel and biochemicals company Aemetis Inc. has announced that its exclusively licensed technology for the production of below zero-carbon renewable fuel has been patented in the United States (U.S. Patent No. 10907184 to be published February 2, 2021), enabling the launch of Aemetis “Carbon Zero” production plants to commercialize the technology.

Walnut shells for disposal. The Central Valley of California produces more than 1.6 million tons of orchard waste and nutshells annually from around 1 million acres of almond, pistachio and walnut orchards (photo courtesy Markku Björkman).

The Central Valley of California produces more than 1.6 million tons of orchard waste and nutshells annually from around 1 million acres of almond, pistachio, and walnut orchards. (Above) walnut shells for disposal. Using patented technology exclusive to Aemetis for agricultural waste wood feedstock, the Aemetis Carbon Zero production plants are designed to convert below zero carbon feedstocks (waste wood and ag wastes) and renewable energy such as solar, renewable natural gas (RNG), or biogas into energy-dense liquid renewable fuels (photo courtesy Markku Björkman).

Using patented technology exclusive to Aemetis for agricultural waste wood feedstock, the Aemetis Carbon Zero production plants are designed to convert below zero carbon feedstocks (waste wood and ag wastes) and renewable energy such as solar, renewable natural gas (RNG), or biogas into energy-dense liquid renewable fuels.

Aemetis expects that such renewable fuels, when used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) or other vehicle engines, will have a “below zero-carbon” greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint across the entire lifecycle of the fuel based on the Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) model, the pre-eminent science-based lifecycle analysis (LCA) model.

We are naming these projects ‘Carbon Zero’ to reflect our mission to reduce greenhouse gases. Wood is partially comprised of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air.  Agricultural waste wood has a below zero carbon intensity as fuel by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, since waste wood is usually burned in the field or breaks down into harmful methane emissions. By combining below zero carbon waste wood with zero-carbon renewable energy obtained from solar, hydroelectric, and biogas sources, Aemetis is transforming these sources of renewable energy into zero-carbon renewable fuels that work with existing engines, as well as range extender generators used in electric cars or trucks as long-haul and local delivery vehicles adopt electric drivetrains to improve emissions, fuel efficiency, and performance, said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis.

Riverbank biorefinery to become Aemetis Carbon Zero 1

The first Aemetis Carbon Zero production plant — “Carbon Zero 1” — is planned for the 140-acre Riverbank Industrial Complex in Central California, a former Army ammunition production facility with 710 000 square feet of existing production buildings.

The Carbon Zero 1 biorefinery will extract sugars from waste wood and then process the sugar into renewable fuel at the existing nearby Aemetis 65 million gallon per year corn ethanol plant near Modesto, California.

This process is expected to reduce the amount of corn used in biofuel production, provide a 90 percent reduction in feedstock cost, and significantly increase the value of the biofuel by significantly reducing its carbon intensity.

After an initial production demonstration phase, the Carbon Zero 1 plant is expected to ramp up capacity to produce 10 percent of the sugar feedstock used in the existing Modesto ethanol plant, with additional expansion in future phases.

The Carbon Zero 1 project and energy efficiency upgrades to the Aemetis plant include funding and other support from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Forest Service, the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and PG&E.

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