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Clariant, Mercedes-Benz, Haltermann Carless report successful fleet test of E20 cellulosic ethanol blend

Clariant, a leading global specialty chemicals company, together with Mercedes-Benz and Haltermann Carless, a well-established HCS Group brand, tested the use of sustainable cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues in a fleet test with Mercedes-Benz series vehicles over a period of 12 months for the first time in Germany. sunliquid 20 was used for the test—a fuel produced by Haltermann Carless with a cellulosic ethanol content of 20 vol% (E20) from Clariant’s sunliquid plant in Straubing.

The cellulosic ethanol allows greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95% across the entire value chain without competing with food production or tying up agricultural land.

The sunliquid process uses a bespoke enzyme mixture to hydrolyze cellulose and hemicellulose chains to form sugar monomer—i.e., saccharification. The enzymes are highly optimized based on feedstock and process parameters, resulting in maximum yields and short reaction times under optimal conditions.

Using optimized microorganisms, the sunliquid one-pot system simultaneously converts both C5 and C6 sugars to ethanol, delivering up to 50% more ethanol than conventional processes which convert only C6 sugars.

Clariant has been operating a pre-commercial plant in Straubing, which produces up to 1,000 metric tons of cellulosic ethanol from around 4,500 metric tons of raw material every year, since July 2012.

At the Haltermann Carless production site in Hamburg, the bioethanol is mixed with selected components to form the innovative fuel whose specifications represent the potential for the quality of E20 fuel in Europe.

In the fleet test with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, sunliquid 20 exhibited very good combustion properties with a high degree of efficiency and identical consumption compared to today’s standard E10 fuel. Due to the slightly lower energy density of E20 compared to E10, slightly higher fuel consumption was expected under the same operating conditions. The tests performed under laboratory conditions demonstrated variability in the consumption analysis in which additional consumption between 0 and 3 percent was observed.

In addition to the performance, an improvement in particle count emissions by around 50% was measured for sunliquid 20 versus the EU reference fuel Euro 5.

In addition to the higher CO2 savings and reduced emissions, the fuel has a significantly higher octane number (RON) of more than 100. With a widespread introduction of E20, engines could be adapted in the future so that the quality advantage of the fuel could be used to improve engine efficiency and thus further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Comments

ai_vin

The cellulosic ethanol allows greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95%

95% of 20% is still 19%. This is a big improvement but with climate change upon us we need to go a lot farther.

SJC

cellulosic ethanol..
Four large plants in the mid west have been producing for years. Same land, same water, same fertilizer...you clear land for a cover crop so you can plant early in the spring.

Arnold

22% by weight from presumably mixed woody biomass is interesting for two reasons.

1: There have been many numbers quoted over the years for conversion rate.
This result for a pre-commercial plant would seem to be a 'hard' number which although not likely to be matched in commercial production should be close.

2: There are many potential feed stocks currently transported for disposal or available at favourable rates and the volumes could be considerable especially if this is commercialised. There would seem to be a need to account for the remaining 78% by weight of raw material.
It could be that some is used for powering the facility,either as process heat or electricity generation and some residue of possible agricultural value.

Mercedes promotion of 20% is not a large claim of itself and the plant is only a demonstration but it does promote and show the progress of technology in a meaningful way. If there were a sufficient supply, 100% ethanol could be utilised for existing ICE engine (fuel cells?) designs, no problems there.

3 considerations on GHG equivalence

I think ai_vin is correct to say that there could be a 19% +-30 compared to strait gasoline.

Reasoning There will be process emissions including sorting or shredding as well as fugitive emissions.
There will be raw material sourcing transport costs.
This is offset by reduction of landfill or other alternate disposal emission as via decomposition.

But petroleum also has a GHG cost before it reaches the tank with an average number ~ 100%

Ethanol has many uses besides as fuel additive so there is no shortage of demand.

Alain

The most difficult part was converting cellulosic biomass to sugar monomers.
The subsequent conversion to ethanol is old stuff.
Once the biomass is converted to sugar, many other green products can be made: it can be "fed" to micro-organisms to produce other stuff (like renewable styrene, butene, butanol, proteins) or directly fed to cows, pigs,...

turning cellulosic (waste) biomass into proteins vastly increases the food production of agriculatural land also. So, even if liquid fuels become obsolete, this is important progress.

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