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GS CleanTech to Offer Biomass Gasification and Fuels Technology to Improve Corn Ethanol Yield

28 July 2006

GS CleanTech Corporation has signed an agreement with ZeroPoint Clean Technology, Inc. for the exclusive rights to distribute and use ZeroPoint’s proprietary biomass gasification, biomass gas-to-liquids (BTL) and fuel-reforming technology in the ethanol production industry.

GS CleanTech initially plans to offer the gasification and BTL technology as an element in a suite of technologies designed to increase the yield from corn ethanol production.

Traditional corn ethanol processing converts each bushel of corn, which weighs about 54 pounds, into about 18 pounds of ethanol, 18 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 18 pounds of distillers dried grains (DDG), which contain about 2 pounds of fat. This corresponds to a corn to clean fuel conversion efficiency of about 33%, or about 2.8 gallons of clean fuel per bushel of corn. GS CleanTech’s ambition is to increase this efficiency as much as possible.

GS CleanTech’s patent-pending corn oil extraction and biodiesel processing technologies convert the fat in the DDG into a high-grade corn oil that can then be converted into biodiesel on close to a 1:1 volumetric basis. This increases the corn to clean fuel conversion efficiency described above to 36%, or about 3.0 gallons of clean fuel per bushel of corn. (Earlier post.)

The ZeroPoint technology has the potential to add to the corn to clean fuel conversion efficiency by gasifying the remaining 16 pounds of defatted DDG in the above example and using the resultant syngas to generate electricity and to produce additional ethanol with the Fischer-Tropsch process.

We believe that deploying the ZeroPoint technology in concert with our turn-key corn oil extraction and biodiesel processing technologies will potentially enable us to increase the corn to clean fuel conversion efficiency from 33% to more than 48%, or from 2.8 to more than an incredible 3.9 gallons of clean fuel per bushel of corn. We are very excited by the potential of this technology in our program and its ability to create additional opportunities for ethanol producers and their regional communities to maximize the clean fuel yield out of existing crops.

—David Winsness, GS CleanTech’s President and COO

ZeroPoint’s Biomass Gasifier is designed to standardize variable biomass feeds and produce high yields of high-quality syngas in real-time with greatly increased capital and operating cost efficiencies at smaller scales as compared to traditional gasification technologies.

The syngas output of ZeroPoint’s gasifier can either be used to generate electricity in a standard gas-fired generator or catalyzed into liquid fuels such as ethanol or diesel substitutes with the Fischer-Tropsch process.

We believe that the ZeroPoint technology is the most effective commercially viable technology available for gasifying biomass. The technology is modular and capable of small and large scale applications. It is flexible and can readily accommodate increasing and variable capacities with variable feeds, and it can be manufactured with rapid delivery cycles. For GS CleanTech, the ZeroPoint technology adds significant additional capability to our clean fuel technology program.

—David Winsness

July 28, 2006 in Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

WOW, .2 of a gallon increase. That will keep us from starving when we are putting fuel in our gas tanks, instead of in our tummies.

After listening to the detailed podcast (on a recent post)about how much energy it actually takes to make ethanol, it is quite clear that the whole 'green' standpoint is completely unfounded. This report does little to inspire confidence.

The sad thing is, politicians and maybe the (not so) big 3 will use it as a green alternative and the mass majority will buy into it.

If I've read this correctly the process
1)produces both ethanol and diesel
2)has no edible byproduct to feed to cattle
3)uses only the corn cobs, not stover
4)does not need coal or natural gas for external heat

I'd like to see cost and energy comparisons with other approaches. Sounds like it could be an improvement though.

WOW, .2 of a gallon increase. That will keep us from starving when we are putting fuel in our gas tanks, instead of in our tummies.

That was just from the corn oil. The BTL liquids would be another .9 gallons. Also, this is apparently just from the distillers grain; they aren't gasifying cobs or stover, if I'm reading that right.

DDG contains sizable amount of microbial proteins, valuable as livestock feed supplement. I am not sure it is economical to burn it as heating fuel.

What I find interesting here (to the extent that an announcement that doesn't mention how the concept has been proven in practice can be interesting) is the implication that the gasifier/BTL train can be economically operated at a small scale. There are many places where relatively small streams of biomass are available.

DDG contains sizable amount of microbial proteins, valuable as livestock feed supplement. I am not sure it is economical to burn it as heating fuel.

The earlier link stated that DDG sells for $.03/lb. The retail price/lb of diesel is more than an order of magnitude higher than this, so it's conceivable it could be economical to gasify it instead. Also, if they could avoid drying the distillers grain it would reduce their energy consumption (but they may have to do that anyway to extract the corn oil).

This goes in the right direction to make a profit but it doesn't solve our needs long term. Let's focus on crops that can produce more fuel per acre like a cellulosic ethanol feedstock crop.

Of course what people are missing here is the useful fact that if the DDG is gasified then the syngas can be burnt to provide steam to the distillation process. Currently this is one the big uses of natural gas within an ethanol plant.

By reducing the NG use, nevermind anything else, this process can help to improve ethanol's EROEI.

Further more, if an ethanol plant was placed close to a power station it could use waste heat from the power station to assist its feed heat processes. This would then potentially free up the DDG syngas.
Now if the syngas was reacted in a steam shift reaction the output of the syngas-steamshift would be H2 and CO2.

The H2 could provide a low cost source of the hydrogen needed to run a Haber process nitrate plant to make fertiliser.

In effect closing the loop. Using Corn to provide its own fertiliser.

Of course it would also help if the corn stovers were gasified as well.

DME developments in China today!
DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:


DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
By:
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
By:
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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