Lignol Energy produces cellulosic ethanol

By Hope Deutscher | June 03, 2009
Report posted June 10, 2009, at 5:08 p.m. CST

On June 8, Lignol Energy Corp. announced it had completed the first end-to-end production of cellulosic ethanol from woodchips at its fully integrated industrial-scale biorefinery plant in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The Canadian company, which develops biorefining technologies to produce fuel-grade ethanol and other biochemical coproducts from non-food cellulosic biomass feedstocks, began construction on the facility in June 2008 and commenced the start-up phase in April 2009. According to Lignol, the first end-to-end production of ethanol utilized all of the unit operations of its unique and proprietary technology.

"Achieving the first production of cellulosic ethanol from the pilot plant is a significant milestone for Lignol" said Ross MacLachlan, president and CEO of Lignol. "Operating the pilot plant to-date has allowed us to identify areas for process enhancement that we will be incorporating to further improve pilot plant operations." Through planned production campaigns, the company intends to operate the pilot plant under a wide range of operating parameters to process various nonfood feedstocks. MacLauchlan said the plant was designed for the optimization of process technology and the evaluation of key equipment selections, including some novel prototype equipment.

Lignol's modified solvent based pre-treatment technology facilitates the rapid, high-yield conversion of cellulose to ethanol and the production of value-added biochemical co-products, including a HP-L High Purity Lignin. "The plant is also providing an excellent platform for our collaborations with leading enzyme companies and potential end users of HP-LTM Lignin," MacLachlan added.

Lignol's facility is one of a handful of fully integrated cellulosic ethanol pilot plants currently operating in the world. Through strategic partnerships, the company said it plans to execute plans to further develop and integrate core technologies on a commercial scale.

"It is imperative that before embarking on any major capital investment in a larger scale plant, information is gained from a pilot plant to understand and mitigate the associated scale-up risk," MacLachlan said. "The information we are generating from our pilot plant will provide Lignol with a significant competitive advantage and will allow us to validate cost and performance assumptions to accelerate our path to commercialization."