Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. enter into Memorandum of Understanding to support development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol
Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)for the initiation of a strategic alliance to accelerate the development and market adoption of cellulosic ethanol.
The partners say the primary alliance goals are to strengthen the credibility among regulators and American consumers of cellulosic ethanol as a cost-effective green transportation alternative; to move away from the “food for fuel debate;” to provide a leadership role to bring cellulosic ethanol through the production value chain to the consumer market; and to build awareness of potential environmental advantages of high-yield, lower-carbon cellulosic ethanol.
Our process delivers a 40 percent higher yield in ethanol from non-food cellulosic feedstocks. Through strategic alliances we can fast-track the large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol.—Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem
ZeaChem uses a combined biochemical and thermochemical process for the production of ethanol. An acetogen ferments sugars from biomass to acetic acid. Acetogens have several advantages to yeast: they convert all xylose (C5) and glucose (C6) sugars and tolerate all breakdown products of biomass; they operate in harsh environments; and they produce no CO2 as a by-product.
The acetic acid is then converted to an ester which is then hydrogenated to make ethanol. To get the hydrogen necessary to convert the ester to ethanol, ZeaChem takes the lignin residue from the fractionation process and gasifies it to create a hydrogen-rich syngas stream. The hydrogen is separated from the syngas and used for ester hydrogenation and the remainder of the syngas is burned to create steam and power for the process.
Earlier this year, the company signed a long-term binding term sheet with GreenWood Tree Farm Fund (GTFF), managed by GreenWood Resources (GWR), to supply hybrid poplar woody biomass for its first commercial cellulosic biorefinery. (Earlier post.)
Hybrid poplar trees are a promising cellulosic feedstock because of their high yield per acre, short rotation and ability to regenerate after harvest. Additional advantages of woody biomass include the ability to aggregate forestry land and the forestry industry’s common practice of signing long-term contracts.
ZeaChem is currently constructing a 250,000 gallon-per-year demonstration-scale biorefinery in Boardman, Ore.; the demo-scale plant will begin to come online this year.
Chrysler has produced approximately 2 million Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) capable of running on E85 since 1998.