Today, another significant step was taken towards the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol when Novozymes partner Mossi & Ghisolfi Group (M&G) conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for a 13 million gallons/year (50 million liters) production facility in Crescentino in northwestern Italy. The plant will be 10 times larger than the largest demonstration facilities in operation today and is designed to operate on a multitude of cellulosic feedstocks. It is scheduled to start production in 2012.
“Laying the foundation for the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant here in Crescentino is an important milestone for us and at the same time a new beginning,” says Vittorio Ghisolfi, President of the M&G Group. “This plant proves cellulosic bioethanol can be produced in a sustainable manner for the environment and for the industry. But research is not stopping here. We are assessing bio-based substitutes for a range of other petrochemical products and chemical intermediates."
Novozymes a key partner
Cellulosic ethanol is produced from biomass such as wheat straw, corn stover, municipal waste, or energy crops, which is first broken down into a pulp. Enzymes are then added, turning cellulose in the biomass into sugar which can be fermented into ethanol. Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, has collaborated closely with M&G for the last couple of years and will supply the enzymes for the plant.
“Today’s groundbreaking is fantastic news and signals the dawn of a new green era,” says Poul Ruben Andersen, Marketing Director Bioenergy at Novozymes. “With this state-of-the-art facility, M&G proves there is a cure for the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. Biofuel made from lignocellulosic biomass is no longer a distant pipe-dream. The technology is ready and plants will be built and run on commercial scale, offering a compelling alternative to conventional gasoline.”
M&G’s plant in Crescentino will be self-sufficient in power. Lignin, a co-product extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is burned in an attached power plant that also feeds excess electricity back to the grid.
The plant will employ approximately 100 employees and generate many more ancillary jobs in the local community.
About Mossi & Ghisolfi Group
Headquartered in Tortona (Italy), M&G is a multinational company operating in the chemicals industry and specializing in the production and sale of PET resins for food packaging. It is the world’s largest producer of PET for packaging applications with a production capacity of 1.7 million tons/year. The group owns production plants in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and the US and supports three R&D units in Rivalta Scrivia (Italy), Sharon Center (USA), and Poços de Caldas (Brazil).
In 2004, with the acquisition of Chemtex International, M&G converted its talent for innovation into an important research project in the area of green chemistry and biofuels.