Study Finds Deepwater Oil Plume in Gulf Stimulating Oil-Degrading Microbes
Hyundai Introduces New Sub-compact Sedan Concept at 2010 Moscow Motor Show

Petrobras and KL Energy In Joint Development Agreement to Optimize Cellulosic Ethanol Process for Sugarcane Bagasse Feedstock

The KLE process. Click to enlarge.

Petrobras, via Petrobras America, entered into a Joint Development Agreement with KL Energy Corporation (KLE) to optimize KLE’s proprietary cellulosic ethanol process technology for sugarcane bagasse feedstock.

As part of this agreement, Petrobras will provide $11 million to adapt KLE’s demonstration facility to the use of bagasse and validate, by means of tests, the optimized process for producing cellulosic ethanol. In parallel, Petrobras and KLE will jointly work on an industrial-scale bagasse-based cellulosic ethanol plant project that shall be fully integrated into a sugarcane mill belonging to the Petrobras Group in Brazil slated to go on stream in 2013.

The latest generation of KLE’s process design provides for substantial enhancements over the first generation, implemented in 2008 at the company’s demonstration plant in Upton, Wyoming. The unit uses wastewood as feedstock and can be optimized for multiple feedstocks. KLE says that its process delivers high yield conversion of C6 and C5 sugars.

The facility uses KLE’s proprietary thermo-mechanical pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis process, which can be adapted for various non-food feedstocks. In addition, KLE provides engineering, optimization and technical services for biofuels facilities.

The agreement, which has an initial term of 18 months and provides for mutual exclusivity in the area of developing cellulosic ethanol from bagasse, provides Petrobras with the option to enter into a technology license for the use of KLE’s technology within Petrobras Group assets.

With this investment, Petrobras seeks to develop yet another alternative for the production of biofuels and renewable, sustainable chemicals to complement initiatives already in progress, such as, for example, research with microalgae to produce oil.

Petrobras views cellulosic ethanol as a very promising technology to substantially increase ethanol by some 40% without increasing the planted area output and further improve the sustainability of its sugarcane mills. This agreement with KLE will considerably accelerate this development effort.

—Miguel Rossetto, CEO of Petrobras Biocombustível



This is interesting. Brazilian sugar cane ethanol already has the best energy multiplier (up to 8:1 and going up with improved canes) could be increased to well over 10:1 by using bagasse to produce cellulosic ethanol.

Corn ethanol with and energy gain of barely 1.5:1 and often closer to 1:1 (= Nil)is no match. What would be corn derived ethanol energy gain if the whole corn plant was used?


That is the idea, grain for good and stalks for fuel. Half the stalks go back to the land and the other half and all the cobs go to fuel.


By returning only half the stalks to the land, would corn farmers have to use more fertilizer to maintain high yield? If so, the price of fertilizer and down stream pollution will go up. May not be a very wise long term solution. We've shot ourselves in the foot before.


No, the study done shows that NO extra fertilizer is required if half the stalks are left on the land. They leave them all their because they have no market to it now.


If that is the true case, then by how much could the NET energy gain be improved? Could it double from 1.5:1 to 3.0:1?


I do not know, do some research yourself and tell us what you have found.


In theory, cellulosic ethanol net energy gain could vary from 2:1 to as high as 7:1 depending on input factors considered, type of feedstock, who is doing the maths and for who etc. An average of 3.0:1 to 3.5:1 is potentially attainable.

With regards to corn stalks, it would depend a lot on the percentage of stalks and leaves used, real replacement cost, long term effect on corn grain yield, transportation cost, processing cost, and various assumptions made. Assuming that you could increase net ethanol yield by 50% to 100% by using the stalks and leaves, you may increase the Net energy gain to something between 2:1 and 3:1. The real gain may be to retain corn grain for food and produce cellulosic ethanol with the stalks and leaves.

That would still be about 3 to 4 times less than the potential energy gain from sugar cane + bagasse.

Other cellulose producing plants such as switch grass etc may come closer to sugar canes but they have a very long way to go.

The comments to this entry are closed.