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ICM advances pathway to cellulosic ethanol with Gen 1.5 technology; collaboration with DSM and Novozymes

ICM, a leading provider of products and services to the biofuel industry, is close to the marketintroduction of its patent-pending Generation 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology (Gen 1.5), which integrates a process for converting corn fiber to cellulosic ethanol with existing ethanol plants.

This pathway to cellulosic ethanol combines mechanical, chemical, and biological processes with ICM’s experience in integrating advanced technologies into existing corn ethanol plants. Critical elements of the Gen 1.5 process were developed through collaborations with two world-leading biotechnology companies, DSM and Novozymes.

ICM is currently in discussion with a short list of interested early adopters of the Gen 1.5 technology, and anticipates construction of the first commercial cellulosic plant utilizing the technology to be built next to an existing grain ethanol plant in the near future.

ICM’s Selective Milling Technology (SMT) selectively grinds corn slurry to make the starch and oil more accessible in the entire process. SMT provides a high financial return to plants by increasing ethanol and corn oil yields. With the further addition of ICM’s proprietary Fiber Separation Technology (FST), the fiber is separated from the stream by counter flow washing steps.

FST provides a dual benefit—eliminating the fiber from the fermentation stream allows for higher corn ethanol production and increased corn oil yield. These value-added platform technologies separate a fiber stream at the front end of the plant, which is a starting point of the Gen 1.5 process to cellulosic ethanol.

The Gen 1.5 process sends the fiber stream to a dilute acid pretreatment that breaks down the fiber and makes the cellulose stream accessible for further processing. This pretreatment was selected based on extensive evaluations considering multiple pretreatment technologies and has been optimized based on all process parameters.

Exiting pre-treatment, the Gen 1.5 process sends the stream to a simultaneous saccarification and fermentation process, whereby the cellulose stream is converted to sugars with an advanced enzyme cocktail provided by Novozymes.

The C5 and C6 sugars are converted to cellulosic ethanol with advanced proprietary yeast. DSM’s development of specific yeasts that ferment both the C5 and C6 sugars in cooperation with ICM’s scientists has allowed ICM to maximize ethanol yields, which are critical to the technical and financial success of this project. DSM is continuously working on advances of yeasts that further increase cellulosic ethanol yield.

Following fermentation, the Gen 1.5 process sends the stream into the production fermentor of the corn ethanol plant and then to distillation and final separation. ICM has significant experience in providing technologies to more than half the ethanol plants in the US. Thus, ICM provides unique technology development capabilities to integrate the energy and material flows while reducing risks.

ICM’s Gen 1.5 process has been proven in both pilot (up to 35,000 gallons) and production (585,000 gallons) fermentors in runs greater than 1000 hours increasing ethanol yield up to 10% and increasing corn oil yield up to 20%.

The cellulosic gallons produced will be eligible to capture D3 RINs, cellulosic tax credits and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Credits, which may result in an added value as high as $3.00 per gallon above corn ethanol prices. This process also produces a high protein DDGS mix.

ICM is presently conducting feed trials to demonstrate the added value of this animal feed as compared to standard DDGS. Capex for the Gen 1.5 process is expected to be $3-5 per cellulosic gallon depending on scale and balance of plant requirements.

The ICM Gen 1.5 process does not require additional feed stock collection of agricultural residues and the fiber stream is clean and more consistent allowing easier processing. In comparison to alternative approaches, the process maximizes the output of cellulosic gallons with the lowest risk and capex investment, the company says.


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