Monday, March 01, 2010

Biorefineries: Local and Regional Bioenergy Expands

Japan"s Mitsui and Denmark's Inbicon are combining expertise to build a number of biorefineries across Southeast Asia.
The agreement grants Mitsui the right to build a number of biomass refineries in Southeast Asia using Inbicon’s technology. Mitsui intends to apply the technology in the palm oil industry, where wastes from palm oil production can be converted into ethanol, solid biofuel for energy production, and animal feed. The agreement marks the first sale of licensing for Inbicon.

With the agreement, we have taken an important step towards the establishing of a plant engineering business for the production of second-generation ethanol in Southeast Asia. We have already committed considerable resources to the development of this new business. Furthermore, we are expecting to expand the cooperation with Inbicon into other markets.

—Shunichi Yamashita, Director of Mitsui

Inbicon A/S, a subsidiary of DONG Energy A/S, develops technology for conversion and refining of soft ligno-cellulosic biomass into fuel, feed, and green chemistry products. The company has operated a pilot plant since 2003, and late last year opened its first Inbicon Biomass Refinery in Kalundborg, Denmark to demonstrate its technology. The plant converts wheat straw into fuel ethanol, animal feed, and lignin pellets for energy production. (Earlier post.)

Inbicon uses a three-stage pretreatment process: mechanical, hydrothermal, and enzymatic treatment of biomass. The pre-treatment yields a much higher concentration of sugar in the liquid going to fermentation, according to the company, and the resulting beer or alcohol concentration is at least double the normal percentage in cellulosic ethanol processing. In other words, each batch has a less water and more ethanol, further increasing yield and efficiency.

The Inbicon plant uses enzymes from Novozymes and from Genencor (Danisco) for its pre-treatment. _GCC

This large scale distributed project is only a hint of what is to come from bioenergy.   Notice the involvement of Mitsui, Inbicon, Novozymes, and Genencor -- along with a number of smaller contractors.

It is vital to understand the combined nature of Mitsui's approach to biofuels.  First they refine the oils from palm oil into diesel, then they refine the biomass waste efficiently into ethanol.  The resulting ethanol can be used in the oils-to-biodiesel process, or for any other purpose ethanol is used.

Southeast Asia is becoming a hotbed of biofuels and bioenergy -- no doubt at least partially because of the massive expansion of oilseed plantations and projects there.  Environmentalists who would otherwise attempt to stop such projects are at something of a disadvantage in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc.

There are ways to grow massive quantities of biomass and oilseeds.  Some of those ways are sustainable and environmentally responsible.  But environmentalists do not care -- they simply want to stop new energy production in order to drive energy starvation and the great   If you can stop new energy via legislation, regulation, or tort, you can make peak energy and peak oil a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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