AE Biofuels Inc. held the grand opening of its integrated cellulosic ethanol commercial demonstration facility in Butte, Montana. (Earlier post.) The 9,000 ft2 facility is one of the first such cellulosic demonstration plants in the US, and the first to integrate the use of both cellulose- and starch-based feedstocks.
The plant uses Ambient Temperature Cellulose Starch Hydrolysis (ATCSH) enzyme technology to convert cellulose and starch to fermentable sugars to optimize process conditions for multiple feedstocks. Non-food ethanol feedstocks used at the facility include switch grass, grass seed straw, small grain straw, sugarcane bagasse, and corn stalks either alone or in combination with a variety of traditional starch and sugar sources such as corn, wheat, barley, and sugarcane. By utilizing multiple feedstocks, AE Biofuels can produce ethanol through a cellulose-only or cellulose / starch combination, thus reducing the risk of commodity availability and pricing uncertainty.
In 2007, AE Biofuels acquired enzyme technology from Renewable Technology Corporation and formed its ethanol technology subsidiary, Energy Enzymes. AE Biofuels utilizes patent-pending ambient temperature enzymes to eliminate the up-front “cooking” process that occurs in traditional starch ethanol production. Eliminating the initial cooking and cooling process significantly reduces energy and water consumption.