Clariant opens cellulose ethanol facility
Former Süd-Chemie site hosts pilot plant
Clariant has officially opened Germany's biggest pilot plant for the production of climate-friendly cellulose ethanol from agricultural waste. This is located at the Bavarian Bio Campus in Straubing, which is decribed as Bavaria’s competence centre for renewable raw materials. It will produce up to 1,000 tonnes/year of cellulose ethanol using the Sunliquid technology developed by Süd-Chemie before it became part of Clariant.
CEO Hariolf Kottmann called the plant “an important milestone in the production of a climate-friendly biofuel that can also be used as a raw material for the chemical industry". Citing the failed start-up of the E10 biofuel, he also called for stable and reliable framework conditions for the development of second-generation bioethanol and an extension of the tax exemption status for second-generation biofuels beyond 2015.
Sunliquid is a biotechnological method that turns plant waste products such as grain straw and corn straw into second-generation cellulose ethanol. Süd-Chemie had been developing it since 2006 and testing it on a pilot scale since 2009. The 2,500 m2 pilot facility will test all the process steps that will later be used in an industrial-scale plant in order to confirm its feasibility and enable Clariant to plan larger-scale plants.
The €28 million facility is near to a harbour on the River Danube and will be able to source its raw materials from the immediate region. According to Clariant, the 4,500 tonnes/year of wheat straw it will consume represents about 20% of the total that Germany could produce for energy uses without compromising soil regeneration. This would cover some 25% of Germany’s current gasoline requirements.