Abengoa opens cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton; 1st commercial deployment of Abengoa enzymatic hydrolysis
|The Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant covers 400 acres, more than 380 of which will be used to store biomass from local farmers. Click to enlarge.|
Abengoa held the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas, located about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Dodge City. Abengoa’s new biorefinery finished construction in mid-August and began producing cellulosic ethanol at the end of September with the capacity to produce up to 25 million gallons (94.6 million liters) per year. Abengoa received a $132.4-million loan guarantee and a $97-million grant through the Department of Energy to support construction of the Hugoton facility.
The plant utilizes only “second generation” (2G) biomass feedstocks for ethanol production—i.e.non-edible agricultural crop residues (such as stalks and leaves) that do not compete with food or feed grain. The facility also features an electricity cogeneration component allowing it to operate as a self-sufficient renewable energy producer. By utilizing residual biomass solids from the ethanol conversion process, the plant generates 21 megawatts (MW) of electricity—enough to power itself and provide excess clean renewable power to the local Stevens County community.
The Hugoton plant opening also marks the first commercial deployment of Abengoa’s proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis technology, which turns biomass into fermentable sugars that are then converted to ethanol. (Abengoa Bioenergy licensed from Dyadic the use and modification of a microorganism that produces the enzymes required for the conversion of cellulose into sugars.)
In addition to the plant’s crucial role in proving the commercial viability of cellulosic ethanol, its success provides a platform for Abengoa’s future development of other bioproducts that reduce petroleum use, such as bioplastics, biochemicals and drop-in jet fuel.
The Hugoton plant opening is the result of 10 years of technical development, roughly 40,000 hours of pilot and demonstration plant operation, and the support of the DOE. This is a proud and pivotal moment for Abengoa and for the larger advanced bioenergy industry—and further demonstrates our longstanding commitment to providing sustainable energy alternatives in the United States. This would have been simply impossible without the establishment of the Renewal Fuel Standard.— Manuel Sanchez Ortega, CEO of Abengoa
At full capacity, the Hugoton facility will process 1,000 tons per day of biomass, most of which is harvested within a 50-mile radius each year—providing $17 million per year of extra income for local farmers whose agricultural waste would otherwise have little or no value.
Of that biomass, more than 80% is expected to consist of irrigated corn stover, with the remainder comprised of wheat straw, milo stubble and switchgrass.
Abengoa plans to offer licenses and contracts to interested parties covering every aspect of this new industry—from process design, to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), supply of exclusive enzymes, as well as operations and marketing of the completed products from the facility.
The proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis technology utilized commercially at Hugoton is a focal point in Abengoa’s efforts to diversify the range of raw material feedstocks from which biofuels and bioproducts can be produced. For example, for more than a year the company has been operating a demonstration-scale facility that is capitalizing on the same technology and enzyme cocktail used at Hugoton to extract cellulosic sugars from municipal solid waste (trash), thereby allowing expansion of the renewable fuels industry from rural to urban areas.
With a biofuels presence on three continents, Abengoa is an international biotechnology company—one of the largest ethanol producers in the United States and Brazil, and the largest producer in Europe with a total of 867 million gallons (3.3 billion liters) of annual installed production capacity distributed among 15 commercial-scale plants in five countries.
Abengoa’s overall presence in the United States—including its solar, water desalination, biofuels and engineering and construction businesses—has grown exponentially since the company expanded its business more than a decade ago. Some 26% of the company’s assets are currently in the United States, which is Abengoa’s largest market in terms of sales.