Make another mark for alternative fuels and chemicals.
ZeaChem, a Colorado developer of biorefinery technologies that can convert renewable materials into sustainable fuels and chemicals, has signed an agreement with Procter & Gamble (P&G) for commercializing bio-based chemicals and other products.
The agreement was made public June 1. Under the multi-year agreement, the two companies will research, develop and commercialize ZeaChem’s latest biorefinery technology, a process that uses renewable feedstocks like poplar trees and agricultural residues to produce high-yield, low carbon fuel emissions.
The deal fits well with P&G’s environmental sustainability vision. The company has indicated it intends to use 100 percent sustainably sourced renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging.
“Novel innovations from our suppliers, such as ZeaChem’s unique process to create bio-based chemicals, are critical to us achieving this vision,” said Len Sauers, P&G vice president for global sustainability.
The two companies will utilize ZeaChem’s existing infrastructure at its lab in Menlo Park, Calif., pilot facility at Hazen Research in Golden, CO, and a demonstration-scale biorefinery in Boardman, OR.
ZeaChem has developed a cellulose-based biorefinery platform capable of producing advanced fuels and intermediate chemicals. ZeaChem’s indirect approach leapfrogs the yield and carbon dioxide (CO2) problems associated with traditional and cellulosic-based biorefinery processes.
ZeaChem has begun fermentation work on this new product platform using the same processes and equipment that the company used to prove and scale up its C2 product platform. The company says the new platform will enable it to ultimately deploy its technology for the production of a variety of bio-based chemicals and fuels.
According to Biofuels Digest, the companies have not described the nature of the target molecules. However, ZeaChem has already stated it will initiate research and development of its three-carbon (C3) product platform.
“Nature has generally dictated that odd numbers like C3 provide more opportunities to make money,” ZeaChem CEO Jim Imbler said in the interview.
ZeaChem’s technology involves a parallel hybrid system of fermentation and gasification. ZeaChem reports this hybrid process can achieve a 40 percent higher yield than other cellulosic processes.
The main contenders for fuel substitutes are biomass fuels, derived from organic plant matter. Ethanol-based bio fuels are extracted from corn. Biodiesel is made up primarily of used vegetable oil and grease. Jatropha oil is also being used to make biofuels. Now added to the list is cellulosic biofuel – a new concept in biofuels because it is not plant specific and can be generated from both living and dead organic plant matter.
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