Mitsubishi Corporation and RedOx Biofuels to Commercialize Electrochemical Synthesis Process for Waste-to-Ethanol
|RedOx’s proprietary Metal Mediated Redox (MMR) technology can convert a range of ligno-cellulosic materials into ethanol and other fuels and chemicals. Click to enlarge.|
Mitsubishi Corporation; Applied Intellectual Capital (AIC); and RedOx Biofuels, a fully-owned subsidiary of AIC, have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to commercialize a process developed by AIC and RedOx Biofuels to convert non-food feedstocks into ethanol.
The RedOx process, Metal Mediated Redox (MMR), is a proprietary electrochemical synthesis process that combines a metal species with a proprietary electrolyte that reacts with ligno-cellulosic feedstocks.
The MMR process is capable of performing three key steps required for fuel synthesis—hydrolysis, oxidation/reduction, and catalysis—and converts ligno-cellulosic materials into ethanol and other high-performance, high-value fuels and chemicals, including hydrogen.
AIC formed RedOX Biofuels in November 2007 to commercialize the AIC proprietary metal mediated redox technology for use in the production of biofuels from a variety of ligno-cellulosic feedstocks. MMR technology has been used by AIC and its founders for the electrochemical synthesis of a number of materials including complex organic molecules such as anthraquinone.
Laboratory tests earlier in 2007 showed the successful conversion of waste cotton cloth—chosen by AIC as an example of a low cost, non-food feedstock—into an ethanol feedstock. AIC has developed pilot scale and full scale equipment designs for MMR systems and is building a number of mobile demonstration systems. Sized at 800-4,000 liters per day of production, the first of these systems is planned for deployment during 2008.
AIC believes that it is unique in using electrochemical synthesis in biofuel production and that its approach provides for more optimal processing of the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin components of ligno-cellulosic feed stocks. In turn, this should allow RedOx to achieve better yields and higher value fuels from a broader range of feedstocks than is currently possible with either acid hydrolysis or enzymatic processes.
With Mitsubishi Corporation’s global presence, its access to feed-stock, as well as its links to down-stream distribution, we have found the ideal partner to bring our electro-chemical biofuels solution to the next level.—Kim Ogaard-Nielsen, CEO of RedOx
MMR works by attacking the cellulosic bonds with metal ions to facilitate the cleavage of the cellulose chain. The MMR technology sequentially processes the separate components of ligno-cellulosic materials, using fully recycled reagents that create little or no secondary waste (unlike acid hydrolysis), and require no chemical pretreatment of feedstocks.
AIC co-founder Roger Clarke told Chemical & Engineering News in 2007 that MMR’s iron-based chemistry recognizes that many enzymatic processes are essentially redox reactions. “A metal-redox species with the right electrolyte can replicate the bond-specific action of an enzyme,” he said. “The redox species is not consumed and can be regenerated.”
In May, RedOx Biofuels announced a collaborative scientific research agreement with Dr. Kevin O’Connor from University College Dublin’s (UCD) School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, to investigate methods of converting post-consumer waste into bio-degradable plastics.
By combining Dr O’Connor’s patent-pending microbiological technology and AIC/RedOx’s MMR technology, the proposal is to convert several waste streams into bio-degradable plastics which can be used in a variety of forms ranging from plastic bottles to surgical parts thereby replacing traditional fossil fuel-based plastics. The collaboration may also be extended in the future to produce other value added products like bio-fuels from waste.
AIC is also developing a bi-polar lead acid battery (BLAB) for application in hybrid vehicles.
Assessment of RedOx Biofuels’ Ethanol Production Technology (Life Cycle Associates)