Since its was launched, Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol pilot production plant in Babilafuente, located in the Biocombustibles de Castilla y León (BCyL) plant in Salamanca, Spain, has completed more than 5,500 hours of operations with a yield of 200 liters (43 gallons US) per tonne of straw, fermenting exclusively from the cellulose. The plant’s target is to achieve a yield higher than 300 liters/tonne (79 gallons US/tonne), as well as to ferment sugars with five carbon atoms (C5), opening the door to the next stage in the technological evolution of the process.
Abengoa has established a specific research line (the Enzyme Development Technological Program) to develop more effective and optimized enzymes to reduce consumption and therefore to reduce their financial impact on the process. Some of the enzymes used in Babilafuente are produced by Abengoa, making it the only company with the capacity to prove their functional capabilities under industrial conditions.
The Babilafuente project received financing for its construction and start-up through the European Commission’s 5th Framework Program.
Abengoa has a second pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Nebraska, and is building a commercial-scale biomass ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. The new plant will have an annual capacity of 100 million liters (approx. 26.4 million gallons US). This project, which is being jointly developed with the US Department of Energy (earlier post), would be the largest commercial bioethanol production plant using biomass to date.