February 22, 2008 Construction has begun on an integrated cellulose and starch ethanol commercial demonstration facility in Montana, USA. The plant is being built by AE Biofuels, an energy company focused on developing next-generation ethanol and biodiesel production from both non-food and traditional materials.
The Montana plant will use patent-pending Ambient Temperature Cellulose Starch Hydrolysis (ATCSH) enzyme technology to optimize process conditions for multiple feedstocks. The facility is expected to use non-food ethanol feedstocks such as switch grass, grass seed straw, small grain straw, and corn stalks alone and in combination with a variety of traditional starch and sugar sources.
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In 2007, AE Biofuels acquired enzyme technology from Renewable Technology Corporation and formed its ethanol technology subsidiary, Energy Enzymes. The company’s enzyme technology is designed to reduce operating and capital costs for both cellulosic ethanol and starch ethanol plants and provides a platform to integrate the two processes. The ambient temperature enzymes eliminate the cooking and cooling processes needed in traditional starch ethanol production which significantly reduces energy and water consumption. In addition, the cellulose enzyme technology has proven successful in converting multiple lignocellulosic feedstocks that are not currently being utilized as biomass, to ethanol. The multi-activity enzymes are expected to reduce capital and operating expenditures for cellulose ethanol production.
The 9,000 square foot pilot plant facility is expected to be fully operational in the second quarter of 2008. AE Biofuels currently owns ethanol plant sites in Illinois and Nebraska and is evaluating sites for large-scale commercial facility construction. AE Biofuels also recently announced the completion of construction of a 50 million gallon per year nameplate biodiesel refinery in Kakinada, India.