Enviral licenses Clariant’s sunliquid technology for commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol project in Slovakia

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In Slovakia, Enviral has acquired a license to use Clariant’s sunliquid technology as part of its goal to realize a full scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant for the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues.

The new plant will be owned and operated by Enviral and is planned to be integrated into the existing facilities at Enviral’s Leopoldov site in Slovakia with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons (15 million gallons per year). It will use Clariant’s sunliquid technology as well as starter cultures from its proprietary enzyme and yeast platforms to process Enviral feedstock into cellulosic ethanol.

The project backstory

Clariant and Enviral conducted extensive tests of Enviral’s feedstock with Clariant’s technology to ensure effective and efficient compatibility. These tests, conducted at Clariant’s pre-commercial sunliquid demonstration plant in Straubing (Germany), provided excellent results and formed the basis for the project decision. Next steps are detailed engineering studies before the official ground breaking which is expected at the end of 2017.

Clariant sets up Business Line Biofuels

As a further step in the commercialization of sunliquid, Clariant decided to set-up a new Business Line Biofuels, as part of the Business Area Catalysis, which is responsible for further developing the biofuels business across the board and report its performance.

The sunliquid backstory

The sunliquid technology offers a completely integrated process design built on established process technology. Innovative technology features like the integrated production of feedstock and process specific enzymes and simultaneous C5 and C6 fermentation ensure best commercial performance.

As we noted in our pictorial on the Clariant demonstration plant in Germany: “Here’s the basic differentiation of the sunliquid system — it’s the onsite production of the microorganisms.”

Also, we reported last September that Global Bioenergies and Clariant are proud to announce the first isobutene production from a wheat straw hydrolysate, in the industrial pilot of Pomacle Bazancourt. Clariant produced the wheat straw hydrolysate, rich in non food/non feed second generation sugar, in its Straubing facility in Germany. This hydrolysate was converted into renewable isobutene in Global Bioenergies’ industrial pilot operated by ARD in its Pomacle-Bazancourt facility.

In January 2016, the technology won the 2015 German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment in the process innovations category for its sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology, prevailing against 14 competitors.

The emissions story is strong,. As we reported in May 2016, ethanol-powered trucks made by Scania and used at the Clariant Suzano plant in Brazil has reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 90%. The ethanol fuel used is manufactured with the Master Batch ED 95 additive produced by Clariant in Brazil. The ethanol fuel used by the Scania trucks contains the Master Batch ED 95 additive produced by Clariant Brazil.

Multi-Slide Guides to Clariant’s sunliquid technology

An integrated approach to cellulosic fuels: The Digest’s 2015 8-Slide Guide to Clariant’s sunliquid process

Cellulosic Ethanol, are all processes equal?: The Digest’s 2016 Multi-Slide Guide to Clariant

Hi-performance tech package: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Clariant’s sunliquid process

The Slovakia backstory

This is one of the first cellulosic ethanol projects announced for Europe, but is the second for Slovakia, We reported in October 2014 that Beta Renewables inked a deal with Energochemica SE for the construction of a 16.5 million gallon (55,000 ton per year) cellulosic ethanol plant. The plant, which will be constructed in Strazske, Slovak Republic, will also generate power and steam. The plant will utilize non-food biomass as its feedstock and enzymes from Novozymes and yeast from Leaf Technologies.

Reaction from the stakeholders

Christian Kohlpaintner, Member of the Executive Committee at Clariant: “We are excited to announce this first license deal for our sunliquid technology. It marks our official entrance into the market and the successful commercialization of this highly innovative and sustainable technology. This step comes as a logical consequence 0f Clariant’s successful innovation strategy and will provide additional growth above and beyond Clariant’s current strong portfolio. Cellulosic ethanol has significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and we are proud in making it a reality.”

“Thanks to the cooperation with Clariant, the Slovak plant of Enviral will be one of the first plants in Europe to start commercial production of advanced biofuel. This exceptional project is the result of intensive work, searching for optimal solutions, as well as the successful technology validation carried out in Clariant´s pre-commercial plant with biomass supplied from Slovakia. Now, thanks to the advanced technology, we can turn it into reality and help Slovakia meet the targets for advanced biofuels in the European Union,” says Matej Sabol, CEO of Enviral.

The Bottom Line

A huge win for Clariant, without a doubt, and a validation of the company’s two-fold strategy to bypass the construction of a first commercial plant off its own balance sheet, and of the commercial appeal of a process that produces its own catalysts onsite, from the agricultural waste.

At the same time, a big step forward for Eastern Europe, which has proven to be a more robust source of agricultural residue feedstocks and thereby a home to more commercial-scale ethanol projects than almost any other region in the world — rivaled only to date by Brazil and the US.