Süd-Chemie AG, a global specialty chemical companies for catalysts and adsorbents based in Munich, is to build a cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant—the largest to date in Germany—for its sunliquid process.

The total project has a volume of altogether €28 million (US$36 million)and comprises an investment volume of some €16 million (US$20.6 million) and accompanying research projects amounting to approximately €12 million (US$15.4 million). These and additional related research projects will be subsidized by the Bavarian State Government and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with approximately €5 million (US$6.4 million) respectively.

As from the end of 2011, this large-scale demonstration plant, located in the immediate vicinity of the new Bavarian BioCampus in Straubing, will produce up to 2,000 metric tons (2,524,000 liters or 667,000 gallons US) per year of bioethanol fuel from agricultural waste, such as cereal straw.

By launching construction of this demonstration plant for our so-called sunliquid technology, we continue to pursue our strategy of developing to market maturity sustainable manufacturing processes for climate-friendly biofuels and chemicals, based on leading expertise in the fields of catalysis, biocatalysis and process engineering. In view of the increasing expense and risks involved in excavating oil, we are making a significant contribution to providing a sustainable substitute for oil-based products.

—Süd-Chemie AG´s Managing Board Chairman, Dr. Günter von Au

The sunliquid process, which Süd-Chemie has been testing in a pilot plant since the beginning of 2009, is an integrated process with dedicated enzyme (i.e., biocatalyst) production; enzyme development is feedstock- and product-specific, and is independent from enzyme suppliers. Enzymatic hydrolysis converts cellulose-based plant residue, such as wheat straw or maize straw, bagasse from sugar cane or energy crops, into C5 and C6 sugar constituents for subsequent fermentation into ethanol.

Additionally, Süd-Chemie has developed a novel ethanol separation process with lowered energy consumption.

Süd-Chemie´s demonstration plant located in Straubing will represent a scaled-down version of the entire integrated manufacturing process required to convert cellulosic plant residue into bioethanol.