Ron Jones

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Ron Jones
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P: 314-682-1571
F: 314-682-1600

Cellulosic Biorefining Demonstration Plant

Cellulosic Biorefining Demonstration Plant

Location: Boardman, Ore.

Client: ZeaChem Inc.

Completion Date: Process Core: 2011; Bookends: 2012

Burns & McDonnell provided design-build services for ZeaChem's 250,000 gallon-per-year cellulosic biorefining demonstration plant. The idea was developed based on fermentation using acetogenic organisms.

The ZeaChem Demonstration Plant uses a hybrid biochemical and thermochemical process to create cellulosic ethanol and biobased chemicals. The core process converts hydrolyzate to ethyl acetate via using energy-efficient, non-distillation-based process. This core process has been bookended on the front by a hydrolysis unit that provides hydrolyzate feed and on the back by a hydrogenation unit that converts the ethyl acetate to ethanol.

This sustainable approach, in addition to the flexibility in end products such as ethanol and biochemicals, makes cellulosic biorefining a potentially viable solution for commercialization.

Read more: Renewable refining: ZeaChem's cellulosic biorefining demonstration plant tests biofuel commercialization

  • Front-end planning
  • Engineering
  • Procurement
  • Construction

Acetogens had been shown to be powerful organisms in other industries such as wastewater treatment before ZeaChem began utilizing them for biobased chemicals and fuels production. Naturally occurring acetogens are highly robust and, unlike yeast, produce no carbon dioxide (CO2) during the fermentation process, allowing ZeaChem to realize a significant efficiency and yield advantage. ZeaChem has successfully used acetogens to produce acetic acid at laboratory and pilot plant scale fermentation trials using mixed sugars as well as hydrolyzate derived from cellulosic biomass.