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Pacific Ethanol to produce cellulosic ethanol at its Madera plant

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., and Edeniq, Inc., have announced that they have entered into a technology licensing and purchase agreement to enable the production of cellulosic ethanol at Pacific Ethanol’s Madera, California (CA) plant using Edeniq’s cellulosic ethanol production technologies.

Pacific Ethanol’s Madera, California (CA) plant will soon be able to produce cellulosic ethanol in addition to conventional corn ethanol (photo courtesy Pacific Ethanol).

Pacific Ethanol’s Madera, California (CA) plant will soon be able to produce cellulosic ethanol in addition to conventional corn ethanol (photo courtesy Pacific Ethanol).

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., a major producer and marketer of low-carbon ethanol fuel in the United States (US), and Edeniq, Inc., a US biorefining and cellulosic technology company, have announced they have entered into a technology licensing and purchase agreement to enable the production of cellulosic ethanol at Pacific Ethanol’s Madera, California plant using Edeniq’s “Pathway” and “Cellunator” technologies.

The Madera plant has a total annual production capacity of 40 million gallons (≈ 151.4 million litres), and is expected to produce up to one million gallons (≈ 3.79 million litres) per annum of cellulosic ethanol with Edeniq’s process. The value of the deal remains undisclosed but the installation is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2017.

– Consistent with our strategy to improve yields and increase production of advanced biofuels at our plants, we are expanding cellulosic ethanol production to our Madera facility. We began producing cellulosic ethanol using Edeniq’s technology at our Stockton (CA) plant in December 2015, and the resulting bottom line contribution is significant. Once commercial scale production is reached at Madera, we expect the technology will increase earnings by over US$2 million annually, said Neil Koehler, President and CEO of Pacific Ethanol in a statement.

Proprietary technical validation process

According to Edeniq, its “Pathway Technology” is a low-cost solution for producing and measuring cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fibre utilising existing fermenters at corn ethanol plants. The Cellunator high-shear milling equipment is a yield-enhancement technology that offers the most significant and consistent increase in ethanol yield and corn oil recovery, and produces cellulosic ethanol when integrated with its Pathway Technology.

Since March 2012, Edeniq has successfully operated a 50 000 gallon (≈ 189 270 litre) per annum pilot plant in Visalia, California to demonstrate the ability to extract cellulosic sugars from feedstocks such as corn stover and sugarcane bagasse and ferment these sugars into cellulosic ethanol. The facility, which was originally constructed under a US$25 million Department of Energy (DOE) programme, successfully met or exceeded all DOE milestones (photo courtesy Edeniq).

Since March 2012, Edeniq has successfully operated a 50 000 gallon (≈ 189 270 litre) per annum pilot plant in Visalia, California to demonstrate the ability to extract cellulosic sugars from feedstocks such as corn stover and sugarcane bagasse and ferment these sugars into cellulosic ethanol. The facility, which was originally constructed under a US$25 million Department of Energy (DOE) programme, successfully met or exceeded all DOE milestones (photo courtesy Edeniq).

The technology features a proprietary technical validation process, quantifies the amount of cellulosic ethanol produced and complies with the registration, record-keeping, and reporting required by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to generate cellulosic D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) as defined by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

– We will be working with the EPA to qualify this production for generating D3 cellulosic RINs, which provide an important premium, and we expect the approval to be received near or shortly after we begin commercial operations. We are also working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to qualify our cellulosic production at both our Stockton and Madera facilities for additional carbon credit under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (CLCFS), said Koehler.

Pacific Ethanol owns and operates eight ethanol production facilities, four in the Western states of California, Oregon and Idaho, and four in the Midwestern states of Illinois and Nebraska. The plants have a combined annual production capacity of 515 million gallons (≈ 1.95 billion litres) and produce over one million tons per annum of ethanol co-products – on a dry matter basis – such as wet and dry distillers grains, wet and dry corn gluten feed, condensed distillers solubles, corn gluten meal, corn germ, corn oil, distillers yeast and carbon dioxide (CO2).

– We are pleased to expand our relationship with Pacific Ethanol and provide our Pathway and Cellunator Technologies to its second ethanol plant. The low-cost profile of our technologies offers ethanol producers an attractive option for enhancing ethanol and corn oil yields and producing high-value cellulosic ethanol using existing fermentation and distillation equipment. We are excited to have over 2 billion gallons (≈ 7.57 billion litres) of ethanol capacity either already under license or committed to commercial trials with additional plants being added each month, said Brian Thome, President and CEO of Edeniq.

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