Abengoa Bioenergy begins operations at demonstration plant

By Erin Voegele | April 09, 2013

Abengoa SA has announced its demonstration plant in Babilafuente, Spain, has begun operations. The facility uses Abengoa’s waste-to-biofuels (W2B) technology convert municipal solid waste (MSW) into ethanol. The demonstration plant has the capacity to process 25,000 metric tons of biomass into 1.5 million liters (396,258 gallons) of fuel annually.

According to information released by Abengoa, its W2B technology features a fermentation treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis.” During the transformation process, the organic matter is subjected to various treatments to produce organic fiber that is rich in cellulose and hemicellulose, which can subsequently be converted into bioethanol,” said Abengoa in a statement.

The company has already proven out the process on a pilot scale at its facility in Hugoton, Kan. A 100 MMly commercial-scale facility is also under development in Hugoton. That facility is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year.

The operation of the demonstration plant also marks progress made by Abengoa Bioenergy’s enzyme and yeast subsidiary, Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies. According to information released by Abengoa Bioenergy, research activities carried out over the past three years have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the cost of enzymes while enzyme yield increases of 40 percent have been achieved in the past year. Through these developments, the company noted that 100,000 liter batches of enzymes have been produced and evaluated in the demonstration plant. As a result, ABNT expects to achieve its 2013 profitability targets for this stage of development. ABNT is also working to improve the sugar-to-ethanol yields achieved by its yeast.

On the same day Abengoa Bioenergy announced the startup of its demonstration facility, the company also announced it has joined the Fuels America coalition. The group is focused on protecting the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and promoting the benefits of renewable fuels. “Abangoa Bioenergy encourages support of this coalition effort to protect and grow this important industry,” said the company in a statement.