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INEOS Bio Begins Advanced Waste-to-Ethanol Plant Feasibility Study

Bri
The INEOS Bio waste-to-ethanol process, originally developed by BRI. Click to enlarge.

INEOS Bio, a subsidiary of INEOS, the world’s third-largest chemicals company, has started a feasibility study for a plant in the UK to convert locally generated biodegradable household and commercial wastes into carbon neutral road transport fuel and clean electricity, using the INEOS Bio technology process. (Earlier post.)

The £3.5-million (US$5.9 million) feasibility study, which includes detailed engineering design work for a plant at the company’s Seal Sands site in the Tees Valley, is being supported by a £2.2-million (US$3.7 million) grant from the Regional Development Agency One North East and the Department for Energy and Climate Change. When completed, the feasibility study will inform an investment decision in 2010 for a commercial INEOS Bio bio-ethanol and bio-energy plant. Subsequent expansion could turn the initial plant into a fully integrated bio-refinery by 2015.

Converting household organic wastes into bio-fuel and clean energy can deliver very attractive environmental and social benefits to the North East and the UK as a whole. Essentially, our aim is to provide bio-fuel for cars and bio-energy at competitive cost without harming the environment, with very low or zero net carbon emissions and without competing with food production.

The challenge now, in the current economic environment, is to commercialize in Europe. In this regard, I would like to express my thanks to One North East, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the National Non-Food Crop Centre for their considerable support to enable this work to go ahead.

—Peter Williams, CEO of INEOS Bio

The INEOS Bio process is a combined thermochemical and biochemical technology for the production of bio-ethanol and renewable power from a wide range of low-cost carbon materials, including biodegradable household and industrial wastes. At the heart of the INEOS Bio technology is an anaerobic fermentation step, through which naturally occurring bacteria convert gases derived directly from biomass into bio-ethanol. The process supports high recycling and high landfill diversion rates.

The INEOS Bio process for ethanol production—developed by BRI, which INEOS acquired in 2007—comprises three main steps:

  1. Gasification of the prepared organic carbon material using oxygen to produce synthesis gas. The hot synthesis gas is quenched and cleaned. Heat is recovered to generate renewable power.

  2. The cleaned, cooled synthesis gas is passed into a fermentation process, where it is consumed by anaerobic bacteria and turned into ethanol. The fermentation broth contains a carefully controlled mixture of nutrients to deliver a reliably high yield of ethanol production. The bacteria achieve a very high selectivity to ethanol. The high yield and high selectivity translate to an outstanding process efficiency and leading production economics. The off-gas from the fermenter is used to produce additional power and heat.

  3. The ethanol solution is purified to make anhydrous ethanol (>99.7% ethanol). This is subsequently blended into gasoline.

Two independent life cycle assessments on the production of INEOS Bioethanol from waste biomass both indicate that GHG savings of > 90% vs. gasoline should be achieved.

Comments

Henry Gibson

I very much like the process of feeding bacteria with carbon monoxide and hydrogen to produce ethanol. I wish that it could also be done to produce butanol.

No fuel can be considered carbon neutral if any fossil fuels are used to make it. In many cases it would be more CO2 reductive just to use fossil fuels and plant more trees. Efficient cabonization of wastes and forest products can be used to permanently remove carbon from the cycle and enrich soils at the same time. Almost all biomass can be used to make foods.

Ethanol itself is a food used by many for a substantial part of their caloric input. In the US, this ethanol would pass the radioactivity test required of food ethanol, which is more radioactive than petroleum ethanol. Would this ethanol be drinkable if it were not mixed with gasoline. ..HG..

sulleny

A good idea. But we know these processes are feasable. Range Fuels and Coskata are both doing various feedstock to ethanol projects.

Henry, while ethanol may be considered a food for some - those who consume it as a food and not an elixer, usually end belly-up on a slab before their time.

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