American Process Inc. establishes pilot plant

By Holly Jessen | February 09, 2010
Posted Feb. 25, 2010

American Process Inc. (API), an Atlanta, Ga., based company, held a ribbon cutting ceremony this week at its pilot plant. It will utilize a trademarked process, called American Value Added Pulping (AVAP), to fractionate wood for cellulosic ethanol production, according to Bob Belling, vice president of business development.

The pilot plant is a partnership between Valero Energy Corp., its subsidiary Diamond Alternative Energy, and API. The plan, Belling told EPM in an email, is to eventually scale up to commercial production of ethanol co-located at a pulp and paper mill. The process uses a byproduct that is normally burned for energy and turns it into ethanol. The company can either license its technology to paper mills or do the project management itself, he said.

AVAP utilizes alcohol sulfite cooking liquor to fractionate softwood chips into three lignocellulosic components, according to API's Web site. The addition of alcohol speeds the pumping and preserves the strength of the cellulose. The company estimates that its process can yield up to 22.6 million gallons of ethanol from a paper mill producing 500 tons of pulp per day.

Besides AVAP, the company is also working on Green Power+, which is a biomass extraction process. There are plans to start construction on a prototype biorefinery in Alpena, Mich., sometime later this year. "In AVAP, there can still be production of pulp," Belling told EPM, "and in Green Power+ the remainder of the wood is used for energy in a biomass boiler."

According to the company's Web site, Green Power+ utilizes a module in front of the biomass boiler to use steam to extract hydrolyzate as well as an ethanol extraction module. Solids that have had water removed are then returned to the biomass boiler. "The process significantly increases overall profitability by converting low BTU hemicelluloses into high value ethanol," the Web site says.

The process allows for cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol at 10 MMgy to 20 MMgy at the cost of $1 per gallon. The technology can be utilized by the pulp and paper industry as well as by any industry using biomass boilers to produce power.

Founded in 1994, the company also has two other offices in Greece and Romania. Besides its work in the cellulosic ethanol field, API is a consulting and engineering firm to help companies identify energy savings and has developed its own software for that use. For more information, see http://www.americanprocess.com.