Switzerland: Integrated Biodiesel Production Consortium Expands Research into Cellulose-Based Biofuels
Clariant has signed a research agreement with Exxon Mobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG). The cooperation will investigate the potential of cellulose sugars derived from agricultural residues as a raw material for the production of biofuels.
Muttenz/Switzerland; Irving/USA — The new partnership expands an existing research collaboration between Exxon Mobil and REG. It demonstrated that the bioconversion technology used enables the conversion of cellulose sugar into biodiesel in a single-stage process. The new agreement with the specialty chemicals group is intended to further optimize this technology by using cellulose sugar that has already been tested and considered suitable. These are to be obtained using Clariant's sunliquid technology. The aim of the companies involved is to merge the processes of the various companies into a seamless process for the production of biodiesel from biomass.
Over the past three years, the collaboration has led to important advances in the genetic optimization of microbes developed by REG that play a role in the conversion of cellulose sugar to biodiesel, said Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Company. The application of Clariant's expertise is now expected to help better understand and advance a critical step in the cellulose conversion process and thus enable the development of a technology for the mass production of biodiesel.
The sunliquid process includes chemical-free pretreatment, integrated production of raw materials and process-specific enzymes, and the production of large quantities of fermentable C5 and C6 sugars. At its demonstration plant in Straubing, trials will be carried out with various cellulose raw materials that will be converted into sugars. REG and Exxon Mobil will obtain high-quality low-carbon biodiesel. The project participants will also work on a concept study to evaluate the feasibility of the process, which integrates the technologies of all three parties.