HCL CleanTech to Establish Pilot Plant in North Carolina for Converting Woody Biomass to Sugars and Fuels
HCL CleanTech, a US-Israeli biofuels technology development company focused on full process technology for conversion of woody biomass to fermentable sugars and advanced biofuels, has selected North Carolina as the site for its administrative headquarters and pilot plant.
The company’s technology utilizes hydrochloric acid to break down lignocellulose, which releases starches for enzymatic fermentation into fuel alcohol. In the process, HCL CleanTech recovers the hydrochloric acid, which allows maximum efficiency of enzymes while re-using the acid. North Carolina, with 17.6 million acres of forest land, is particularly well-suited to both benefit from and assist a company working for fuels based on woody biomass, the company says.
The Biofuels Center of North Carolina has assisted the company and will provide office space in Oxford in its Biofuels Accelerator on North Carolina’s Biofuels Campus. The pilot plant will be located at Southern Research Institute’s Advanced Energy and Transportation Technologies Center in Durham.
Once HCL CleanTech’s pilot-scale facility is built and commissioned, Southern Research engineers, scientists, and technicians will begin operating the unit this summer. Some goals of that effort are to determine optimal operating conditions, define operating characteristics, and seek technology optimization paths HCL Cleantech can integrate into its first generation commercial plants. Sugars, lignins and tall oils produced at the facility will be distributed for testing of integration to more than 40 companies across the US and internationally who have the technologies to convert the sugars to biofuels and bioproducts and have requested to try the sugars, the lignin and the tall oils from the pilot plant.
The Biofuels Center is a private non-profit corporation funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to develop large capacity for biofuels statewide in coming years. The Center implements sustained state policy, assists companies and all parties within the biofuels community, and works to meet North Carolina’s goal: by 2017, 10% of the state’s liquid transportation fuels will come from biofuels grown and produced within the state.
Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 scientific research organization that conducts advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy, and preclinical drug discovery and development.