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CE+P to partner with JBEI on advanced biofuels research

In the United States (US), California Ethanol & Power LLC (CE+P) has announced that it is partnering with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a Bioenergy Research Center of the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop scalable next-generation renewable energy products using biomass from CE+P’s planned sugarcane ethanol facility in Imperial County, California (CA).

Located in Imperial Valley, California (CA) and wholly-owned by California Ethanol & Power LLC (CE+P), Sugar Valley Energy, LLC is the first planned biorefinery that will produce approximately 68 million (US) gallons (≈ 257 million litres) per annum of fuel-grade ethanol as well as supply renewable natural gas (RNG), and electricity to the gas and power grids respectively (photo courtesy CE+P).

California Ethanol & Power LLC (CE+P) is a development company that intends to develop, construct, operate and own numerous facilities that will convert sugarcane, locally grown by CE+P, into low carbon “Essential Ethanol”, renewable electricity, biomethane, and other valuable co-products.

The new partnership will jointly pursue research and grants to support new technologies and processes for breaking down byproducts of the planned sugarcane crop as a source for even lower-carbon energy products, including advanced cellulosic ethanol.

CE+P Permitting Manager Nathan M. deBoom has been also been named a member of JBEI’s Advisory Committee, which is comprised of strategic advisors from across the research spectrum including representatives from national labs, academia, and industry.

In addition to JBEI, research will also be implemented by the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

We are excited and honored to partner with JBEI and ABPDU and look forward to working together to revolutionize the science of producing even lower carbon fuels,” said Ronald G. Blake Jr., Chief Financial Officer for CE+P. “We envision this work could create new opportunities for the entire Biofuel industry, and ultimately our operation as well by enhancing the output of our Sugar Valley Energy campus.”

Novel pre-treatment approach

JBEI has developed a patent-pending approach that begins by treating biomass with a class of inexpensive solvents called alkanolamines. Alkanolamines are distillable, meaning that they can be efficiently recovered and reused in the same process.

Initial lab tests have demonstrated that the alkanolamines release very high levels of sugars, as well as a separate stream of lignin. The system is run at low temperatures and requires minimal energy input.

The world has not yet cracked the problem of cost-effective conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into higher-value products, and we intend to do just that with CE+P as applied to sugarcane non-food waste streams. This is a great opportunity for JBEI and CE+P to demonstrate an affordable and scalable technology that could benefit the local community but also be applied more broadly to help meet the challenges of climate change, said Blake Simmons, JBEI Chief Science & Technology Officer.

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