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Biofuels Süd-Chemie Lays Foundation for Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in Germany

Editor: Dr. Jörg Kempf

Süd-Chemie, a member of the Clariant Group, has started construction in Straubing (Lower Bavaria) of what will be the largest German plant for the manufacture of the climate-friendly biofuel cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste materials.

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Dr Günter von Au, Chairman of the Managing Board of Süd-Chemie, commented: “With the investment in building the demonstration plant, we are taking a major step towards commercialising our sunliquid process and thus launching a sustainable process for climate-friendly fuels.” (Picture: Süd-Chemie)
Dr Günter von Au, Chairman of the Managing Board of Süd-Chemie, commented: “With the investment in building the demonstration plant, we are taking a major step towards commercialising our sunliquid process and thus launching a sustainable process for climate-friendly fuels.” (Picture: Süd-Chemie)

Munich and Straubing/Germany – In the presence of Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Martin Zeil, the ground-breaking ceremony for the future project funded by the Bavarian state government and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) was held on 26 July 2011.

From the end of 2011, the plant, which is being built very close to the Bavarian BioCampus in Straubing, will produce up to 1,000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol per year, primarily from wheat straw from the Straubing area, an agricultural centre of what is known locally as “the granary of Lower Bavaria”. It therefore constitutes a key milestone on the road to the commercialisation of the technology. Around 20 new jobs will be created at the location in the next three years.

Dr Günter von Au, Chairman of the Managing Board of Süd-Chemie, commented: “With the investment in building the demonstration plant, we are taking a major step towards commercialising our sunliquid process and thus launching a sustainable process for climate-friendly fuels. Our thanks go to all local and national partners as well as our government sponsors, especially the Bavarian state government and the BMBF. With our Straubing demonstration plant, we will put a future technology made in Germany right at the forefront of the global market.”

Since 2009, the sunliquid process developed by Süd-Chemie has already been tested successfully on a pilot scale. This is an innovative, biotechnological process for producing bioethanol from plant waste materials such as cereals or corn stalks. Construction of the demonstration plant is the essential interim step for the planning of energy-efficient and cost-effective production facilities with optimum greenhouse gas savings.

In this fully integrated process, highly optimised raw material-specific biocatalysts deliver high yields under stable process conditions. Process-integrated production of the biocatalysts provides flexibility and reduces production costs. By means of a new yeast organism, C5 and C6 sugars can be converted to ethanol, which increases the yield by around another 50%. A new purification process developed by Süd-Chemie will also be used for the first time at the Straubing plant. This is a significant factor in ensuring that the total amount of process energy required can be gained from the non-recyclable residual substance lignin.

The total project volume is around € 28 million: € 16 million in investment and just under € 12 million for accompanying research measures. The Bavarian state government and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have each put around € 5 million into this and other research initiatives relating to the project.

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