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Aemetis producing cellulosic ethanol from orchard waste at integrated demo unit

US-headed advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company Aemetis Inc., has announced that after successfully completing the construction and commencement of an Integrated Demonstration Unit, the company is now producing cellulosic ethanol from orchard waste, utilizing technologies from Aemetis, LanzaTech and InEnTec.

According to a statement, the plant is a continuously operating demonstration facility located at InEnTec’s Technology Center in Richland, Washington, that is processing various feedstocks and demonstrating the integration of technologies to be used in the full-scale operating biorefinery.

The Aemetis integrated demonstration unit was built to showcase high yield cellulosic ethanol production through the integration of advanced gasification from InEnTec with patented microbial fermentation from LanzaTech. The plant converts waste orchard wood and nutshells from California’s Central Valley into cellulosic ethanol. California has more than one million acres of almond, walnut, and pistachio trees that currently produce over 1.6 million tons of waste wood and shells per year. Cellulosic ethanol can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80percent compared to gasoline, said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis.

Yields and other data from the operation of the integrated demonstration unit will be provided to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of completing the Phase II loan guarantee process under the USDA 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program. Aemetis is building a 10 million US gallon per year (≈ 37.85 million litres) cellulosic ethanol production facility near the existing Aemetis 60 million gallon per year (≈ 227.12 million litres) ethanol plant in Keyes, California.

Under the 2007 Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the cellulosic ethanol production mandate limit increases each year to up to 16 billion US gallons per year by 2022. The current market price of cellulosic ethanol sold in California is estimated to be US$4.50 per gallon, which is about US$3.00 more per gallon than conventional ethanol.

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