Aemetis announced that it successfully built and operated an integrated cellulosic ethanol demonstration unit for more than 120 days of continuous operations with 94% uptime, meeting the requirements for a federal USDA 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program guaranteed loan.
In partnership with its key technology providers InEnTec and LanzaTech, Aemetis successfully optimized the integration of an advanced arc furnace and gas fermentation technologies to convert waste biomass into low carbon, renewable cellulosic ethanol and fish meal.
For the demonstration unit, Aemetis used waste orchard wood and nut shells from almond and walnut trees as feedstock, gasified the biomass using a high temperature plasma gasification system to produce synthesis gas, cooled and cleaned the syngas, and supplied the syngas to a patented gas fermentation bioreactor from Lanzatech to produce an ethanol broth. The broth was subsequently distilled to produce commercial-grade ethanol.
The unit was built at the InEnTec Technology Center in Richland, Washington and demonstrated the fully integrated system, including biomass handling, gasification, gas clean up, waste treatment and distillation systems.
The completion of the successful operation of the demonstration unit is the final technology step in securing a USDA loan guarantee for the $158 million cellulosic ethanol plant Aemetis is building in Riverbank, California.
We believe that the integration of these technologies, and the high yields generated by the unit, demonstrate that Aemetis can successfully produce high value cellulosic ethanol from the 1.6 million tons of waste orchard wood and other renewable feedstocks in the Central Valley. With plans to expand the Riverbank plant and construct additional plants, Aemetis plans to be a leader in supplying California’s low carbon fuels mandates.—Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis
With a 20-year feedstock supply agreement and a 55-year lease already signed, the 12-million gallon per year Riverbank plant is expected to begin operations in 2019. Future expansion could take the capacity to 36 million gallons per year. In a presentation at ABLC in March, McAfee said that four plants are plammed.
Aemetis also owns and operates a 60-million-gallon-per-year dry-milling ethanol Biorefinery in Keyes, California. In addition to corn, Aemetis has processed more than 60,000 tons of grain sorghum (also known as Milo) into fuel ethanol. Grain sorghum is considered a lower carbon feedstock than corn. In 2013, Aemetis was the first US ethanol producer approved by the EPA to qualify for a higher value D5 Renewable Identification Number (RIN) to produce lower carbon ethanol by using a process combination of grain sorghum, biogas/landfill gas/and our CHP unit.