Danish Biotech Firm Unveils 'New Ethanol'
February 23, 2009
At the 14th annual National Ethanol Conference Monday in San Antonio, Danish biotech pioneer Inbicon announced a series of technical and marketing initiatives for bringing commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol to North America. Under the banner of The New Ethanol, and in collaboration with the U.S.-based G-team, Inbicon is putting the finishing touches on new engineering and business model that incorporates its proprietary technology into a new pathway for converting biomass to ethanol.
CEO Niels Henriksen said, "Our new model of the Inbicon Biomass Refinery will allow North American grain-ethanol plants to add 20 million gallons a year of The New Ethanol to their output. Better yet, the new model generates its own bio-power, enough to not only produce The New Ethanol but also send a significant amount of green electricity and steam to the host plant, cutting the host's energy costs dramatically."
The G-team's Jeff Robert and Larry Johnson, responsible for the technical and business modeling, are now assessing successful grain-ethanol operations to determine which are most compatible with the Inbicon process. According Inbicon vice-president Michael Persson, in America for the conference, next steps will include detail engineering of two Inbicon Biomass Refineries, with groundbreaking to follow soon after. "It's an exciting time to launch a new idea," he says. "Thomas Corle and his G-team have been through this before. They helped build America's highly successful first-generation ethanol business. And now they're together again and working with us to build the next generation.
"Bringing Inbicon's cellulosic technology to commercial scale," added Persson, "will help producers start taking advantage of government mandates. We believe Inbicon can play a vital role in helping the U.S. and Canada shift to lower-cost, cleaner, renewable fuels like ethanol--especially ethanol made from nature's leftovers like wheat straw and corn stover. And made without using fossil fuels to power the process."
For nearly six years, Inbicon has been testing, perfecting, and patenting its biomass conversion process at its pilot plant in Denmark. One measure of Inbicon's cellulosic commitment: building a $50 million demonstration-scale Inbicon Biomass Refinery, which will showcase the company's green technology at the 15th World Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December. It's only the first stage of a planned Inbicon Biomass Technology Campus.
"We've taken a road less traveled," said Inbicon's Henriksen. "Instead of focusing on making ethanol, we've concentrated on adding value to biomass by converting it into other forms of energy. Besides the 20 million gallons of The New Ethanol for automotive fuel, our technology will also produce a molasses for high-energy livestock feed and a powdered lignin biofuel that we convert on-site into 'green' thermal and electrical energy. Some of this excess electricity produced can also be sold back to the power grid."
When the mandated market for U.S. cellulosic ethanol hits 16 billion gallons in 2022, Corle expects The New Ethanol to claim a substantial share. "Beyond enabling plant owners to seize cellulosic mandate opportunities, it enables green investors to be early to market, green-collar workers to find new jobs, farmers to sell additional crops, farm machinery makers to contribute new designs, construction workers to build plants with light environmental footprints, communities to rebuild their economic base, consumers to power their cars with a cleaner, greener fuel... and the industry to regain its purpose and vitality."
Inbicon is recent spin-off of DONG Energy, formed out of the technology and engineering group that first began converting biomass to energy in the 1990s. As Denmark's largest energy group, DONG Energy earns $7.6 billion USD in annual revenues and employs about 5100 people. It produces and distributes oil and gas, produces and distributes electricity to a million Danish customers, exports energy to other EU companies, and is the world's largest developer and operator of offshore wind farms. The company has 14 years of practical experience gathering, transporting, storing, and handling huge volumes of biomass, currently over a million tons of wheat straw and wood pellets a year.
The G-team is a U.S.-based group bringing together biofuels specialists from marketing, technical, and business disciplines.
Engineering News Archive