In May 2017, CEO Vyacheslav Braverman together with a group of farmers from Odessa region visited Clariant demonstration plant located in Straubing (Bavaria).
The biotech Sunliquid® process allows Clariant to obtain difficult-to-extract sugar from non-food feedstocks such as wheat straw, rice straw, and corn stover. The sugar is then converted to ethanol. This approach can be used whatever agricultural waste is available in the region. The technological process comprises 4 steps:
Step 1. MECHANICAL AND THERMAL PRE-TREATMENT In a tank the straw is treated with steam under pressure which reduces it to fiber bundles.
Step 2. ENZYME PRODUCTION The second step is enzyme production. Clariant produces the enzymes as an integrated part of the process itself minimizing procurement outlays and making the overall process more cost-efficient.
Initially, a small quantity of the straw fiber is separated from the rest, fed into a small reactor and provides the nutrient medium for the microorganisms that are then added. Under ideal process conditions these microorganisms which are tailored to the raw material employed rapidly produce large quantities of enzymes.
The rest of the straw fiber is liquefied in multiple reaction vessels by means of these enzymes. Since the enzymes are specially tailored to the raw material used and the conditions in the reactor the subsequent process is far more efficient than with standard non-specialized enzymes.
The enzymes release all the sugars available in the straw and convert them to the respective monomers. The enzymes act as biological scissors cutting up the long sugar chains. The insoluble lignin is now removed and employed as fuel to provide the energy required throughout the process. The Sunliquid® process is energy self-sufficient requiring no additional energy from fossil fuels.
Step 3. FERMENTATION Next, the sugar solution produced in Step 2 undergoes fermentation. All sugars are fermented simultaneously with the help of specially developed fermentation organisms. In other words, the organisms take up all the sugars at the same time and convert them to ethanol which is initially dissolved in water. Using these specialized fermentation organisms about 50% more ethanol is produced than with comparable processes.
Step 4. ETHANOL PURIFICATION In Step 4 the ethanol is extracted from the water. This is normally achieved through distillation – a highly energy-intensive method. Clariant has developed an alternative very energy-efficient process that employs specialized adsorbers. These are porous sponge-like structures that act like a sieve. Water passes through the adsorbers while the ethanol is first bonded to their large surface area and then separated off. The resulting pure ethanol can now be processed to produce biofuel. PHOTO: DEMONSTRATION PLANT. STRAUBING http://www.clariant.com.na/ru-RU/Innovation/Innovation-Spotlight-Videos/sunliquid
5 metric tons of straw yield about 1 ton of bio-ethanol. That’s enough to drive some 15,000 kilometers and cut carbon emissions by up to 95% compared with gasoline.
Which means the new Sunliquid® process helps to supply the world with fuels that are safer, more sustainable, and more environmentally friendly.