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Sunliquid® – From Research to Commercialization

The efficiency of the sunliquid® process is based on the high specificity of the proprietary enzymes and microorganisms used. These are individually optimized at the Clariant Biotech Center (CBC), in line with the relevant feedstock and processing conditions. Clariant has established a powerful high-throughput-screening technology to optimize production strains, fermentation strains and individual enzymes. This leads to high yields by releasing both C5 and C6 monomeric sugars in enzymatic hydrolysis. Furthermore, efficient ethanol fermentation organisms simultaneously convert C5- and C6-sugars into ethanol, vastly extending the productivity of the plant. As the required enzymes are produced as an integral part of the production process, the costs of enzymes are minimized.

Since July 2012, Clariant has been validating and optimizing both its technology and its biocatalysts on an industrial scale at Germany’s first cellulosic ethanol plant in Straubing. The capacity and size of this pre-commercial plant were carefully chosen to reflect industrial scale conditions and to prove a safe technical and economical process to scale-up to full-production. This lowers the technological risks for planning a full-scale commercial plant and allows the testing and evaluation of a variety of different agricultural residues and the feedstock supply chain. Thus, the plant in Straubing serves as a model for a commercial-scale production plant and is a must-have step towards commercialization. Currently, around 20 Clariant specialists are working at the Straubing plant.

The pre-commercial plant in Straubing has been the testing platform in order to prepare the construction of a production plant for cellulosic ethanol with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons. Clariant and the EU project partners are now implementing the first-of-its kind commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol in the southwest of Romania.