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New biorefinery opened

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Abengoa Bioenergy has opened the US’ third commercial scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas. The ABBK facility is the first of its kind to use a proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis process which turns cellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars that are then converted into transportation fuels.

The plant will produce cellulosic ethanol from non-edible corn stalks, stems, and leaves harvested within a 50 mile radius of the plant. The cellulosic ethanol produced at the plant will be sold into the ethanol commodity market and used to fuel light duty vehicles. The state of the art facility will feature an electricity cogeneration component that will generate up to 21 mW of electricity, enough to power itself and provide excess clean, renewable power to the local community.

The Energy Department has played an important role in advancing the cellulosic ethanol industry by supporting bioenergy conversion technology development from the lab to initial commercial scale deployment. Last month, Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa, opened its doors, becoming the nation’s second commercial scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery. It is designed to produce 25 million gal./y of cellulosic ethanol. Once they are fully operational, these facilities will have a combined production capacity of over 50 million gal./y of cellulosic ethanol.


Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) President and CEO, Jim Greenwood has said the following about the opening of the new plant, ‘the advanced biorefinery industry is starting up first of a kind cellulosic biofuel plants, creating new jobs and providing the cost competitiveness of innovative new technology. The new cellulosic biorefinery opened by Abengoa Bioenergy today is the realisation of nearly a decade of research and development and billions of dollars in investment and is the second commercial scale cellulosic biofuel plant in as many months. We congratulate Abengoa and its employees on this achievement.

‘The Renewable Fuel Standard has been the driving force in encouraging innovative companies like Abengoa to invest this time and money to commercialise cellulosic biofuels. New advanced biofuel technologies are vital to the nation’s energy security. The US must stay the course with the RFS, keeping this policy strong and operating consistently and predictably.’

Edited from press releases by Claira Lloyd

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