NewEnergyBlue has recently acquired the exclusive rights to Inbicon’s bio-conversion technology in the Americas, where it intends to convert wheat straw into carbon-neutral automotive biofuel using the technology.
The company purchased the technology licence from Danish green energy company Ørsted, which developed the technology over 15 years at a cost of $200 million (€178.6 million). Ørsted proved commercial operation of the technology at its refinery in Kalundborg in Denmark.
"A number of our executives worked with Ørsted developing this technology," explained Thomas Corle, CEO of NewEnergyBlue. "Our engineers continued to optimize the process of the refineries we're designing today."
NewEnergyBlue plans to build a number of biomass refineries across grain belts and sugar-growing regions in the Americas to process agricultural residues including wheat straw into a high-octane advanced ethanol fuel.
"Our plan is to feed fuel markets in states like California and countries who likewise battle carbon pollution with policies that incentivise low-carbon biofuels made from agricultural residues," Corle added.
"Using Inbicon technology at the core of our refinery gives a clean process–no acid or high ammonia used–unlike other technologies at commercial scale," he continued, noting that the company’s refinery uses high-pressure steam followed by an enzyme bath to break down the biomass fibres into sugars and lignin, which can then be used for the production of biofuels.
"Instead of using fresh water, our enclosed-loop design recycles the water from the biomass—about 15% moisture—which can produce a surplus of clean water for uses like irrigation," Corle added. "July was Earth's hottest month on record. As climate change and expanding populations increase competition for water, our refineries can save millions of gallons annually producing renewable fuel."
NewEnergyBlue expects to break ground on its refinery in Spiritwood, North Dakota in 2020. The refinery will be owned by the company and its equity holders, who include regional investors with interest it contributes to the local area economy.
Corle explained: "Given current trade policies and the strained margins on grain ethanol, we're also attractive to first-generation producers for co-locating our biomass refinery. First-gen producers can license low-carbon solutions through us, including a shared CHP unit fuelled by our lignin that further reduces their production's carbon footprint to access low-carbon markets they can't now."
Albury ‘Bo’ Fleitas, who has recently been appointed as president of NewEnergyBlue after investing in the company, sees "investor interest picking up—in part due to the tight margins on wind and solar projects, in the main due to projected double-digit returns on equity from our refineries thanks to our sustainable business model and a huge market appetite."
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