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