Abengoa opens cellulosic ethanol plant

Abengoa debuts advanced biorefinery for cellulosic ethanol in southwest Kansas.

Abengoa, an international biotechnology company, announced Oct. 17 the official grand opening of its second-generation cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kan.

Abengoa's new biorefinery, which has the capacity to produce up to 25 million gal. per year, finished construction in mid-August and began producing cellulosic ethanol at the end of September. The plant utilizes only second-generation biomass feedstocks for ethanol production, meaning non-edible agricultural crop residues such as stalks and leaves.

At full capacity, the Hugoton facility will process 1,000 tons per day of biomass, most of which will be harvested within a 50-mile radius. Of that biomass, more than 80% is expected to consist of irrigated corn stover, with the remainder comprised of wheat straw, milo stubble and switchgrass.

The state-of-the-art facility also features an electricity cogeneration component, allowing it to operate as a self-sufficient renewable energy producer.

In addition, the opening of the Hugoton plant marks the first commercial deployment of Abengoa's proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis technology, which turns biomass into fermentable sugars that are then converted into ethanol.

"The Hugoton plant opening is the result of 10 years of technical development, roughly 40,000 hours of pilot and demonstration plant operation and the support of the (U.S. Department of Energy," Ortega said. "This is a proud and pivotal moment for Abengoa and for the larger advanced bioenergy industry — and further demonstrates our long-standing commitment to providing sustainable energy alternatives in the United States."

Abengoa also said it plans to offer licenses and contracts to interested parties covering everything from process design to engineering, procurement and construction, the supply of exclusive enzymes, as well as operations and marketing of the completed products.

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