Abengoa to build ethanol plant

Technology provider for the energy and environment sectors Abengoa will implement its enzymatic hydrolysis process technology to produce bioethanol at a commercial-scale in the US.

The news comes after the company's second generation bioethanol pilot production plant, located in Salamanca, Spain, produced successful results.

The project, which received financing for its construction and start-up through the European Commission's 5th Framework Program, currently produces 5 million litres of the biofuel from wheat and maize straw.

Since it was launched in 2009, the plant has operated for over 5,500 hours, yielding 200 litres per tonne of straw, fermenting exclusively from the cellulose.

Now Abengoa will use its technology in a 100 million gallon-a-year plant, which it will build in Hugoton, Kansas. The project is being developed in conjunction with the US Department of Energy and will be the largest commercial bioethanol production plant using biomass to date. The plant will save approximately 135,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 35,000 cars.

Abengoa aims for the large-scale production facility to achieve a yield higher than 300 litres per tonne.

The company has made major investments in enzymatic hydrolysis, including establishing a focused research line (the Enzyme Development Technological Program) to create more effective enzymes, which are key to the production of ethanol from biomass.

Abengoa is the largest producer of ethanol in Europe and one of the largest in the US. It is the only bioethanol producer to have production facilities on three continents, and has an annual worldwide production capacity which currently stands at 840 million gallons a year.

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