Aemetis to use Mitsubishi ZEBREX technology to reduce energy use and lower carbon intensity of ethanol; largest implementation worldwide
Aemetis will be implementing the Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation ZEBREX zeolite membrane dehydration system at the 60 million gallon per year Aemetis fuel ethanol plant in Keyes, California. The Aemetis plant upgrade is the first ZEBREX system installation in North America and is the largest implementation of the ZEBREX system worldwide.
With ZEBREX, ethanol and water are separated by the sharp selectivity of the zeolite, producing 99.5% purity ethanol and recycle water in a single pass.
The upgrade from the traditional Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) dehydration process to the ZEBREX system can reduce energy consumption in the production of biofuels by up to 25%, increasing production capacity while reducing the usage of fossil fuel-based energy and lowering the carbon intensity (CI) of ethanol produced at the plant.
The ZEBREx dehydration system does not require regeneration because it is able to continuously separate water and ethanol, whereas the conventional PSA process uses considerable energy. For this reason, ZEBREX is able to reduce steam consumption (utility costs) significantly compared to the PSA process.
The unit will be designed and fabricated for Aemetis by ICM, Inc., headquartered in Colwich, Kansas, a leading ethanol technology provider. The Aemetis plant upgrade is the first ZEBREX installation delivered by MCC’s strategic engineering partner, ICM, in North America.
The ZEBREX system will allow the ethanol produced by Aemetis to use significantly less natural gas; reduce carbon emissions by approximately 16,000 tons per year; and provide increased ethanol production, achieving a lower carbon intensity biofuel that supports the goals of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).—Hiroyuki Kakiuchi, Manager of the ZEBREX product line at Mitsubishi Chemical Company
The ZEBREX system has been installed in approximately 70 alcohol production plants worldwide. The system is a continuous membrane dehydration technology to separate water from ethanol for purification into fuel quality biofuel at lower cost than the energy-intensive PSA units commonly used at ethanol plants.