Süd-Chemie AG has started construction in Straubing (Lower Bavaria) of what will be the largest German plant for the manufacture of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste materials.
From the end of 2011, the plant, which is being built very close to the Bavarian BioCampus in Straubing, will produce up to 1,000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol per year, primarily from wheat straw from the Straubing area.
Since 2009, the sunliquid process for producing bioethanol from plant waste materials such as cereals or corn stalks developed by Süd-Chemie has been tested successfully on a pilot scale. Construction of the demonstration plant is the essential interim step for the planning of energy-efficient and cost-effective production facilities with optimum greenhouse gas savings.
In this fully integrated process, raw material-specific biocatalysts deliver high yields under stable process conditions. Process-integrated production of the biocatalysts provides flexibility and reduces production costs. By means of a new yeast organism, both C5 and C6 sugars can be converted to ethanol, which increases the yield by around another 50%.
A new purification process developed by Süd-Chemie will also be used for the first time at the Straubing plant. This is a significant factor in ensuring that the total amount of process energy required can be gained from the non-recyclable residual substance lignin.
The total project cost is around €28 million (US$40 million)—€16 million (US$23 million) in investment and just under €12 million (US$17 million) for accompanying research measures. The Bavarian state government and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have each put around €5 million into this and other research initiatives relating to the project.