AST increases scale of Wisconsin research facility

By Ann Bailey | March 22, 2016

American Science and Technology has completed the scale-up of its biorefinery in Wausau, Wisconsin.

The scale-up increase’s the processing capacity of AST, an emerging technology company in the biochemicals and renewable fuel sector, from 100 kilograms to 2 tons of cellulosic biomass per day.

AST, which collaborates with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was awarded $1.5 million in November 2013 as part of a $22.5 million University of Wisconsin system initiative to help with the biorefinery plant scale-up. AST also contributed $1.5 million to finish the projects.

Chicago-based AST has been using its biorefinery facilities in Wasuau to develop a sustainable and economically viable Organosolv process to convert biomass into highly fermentable sugars, high-purity lignin, high-quality pulp and organic solvents. Any type of biomass, including wood chips or plant waste can be used, said Ali Mannesh, AST president and CEO.

Two Fortune 500 companies are using AST’s technology to process their lignoncellulosic biomass and to develop new products, the company said in a news release. AST’s cellulosic sugar and lignin are key intermediate products in the supply chain for producing biochemicals, plastics, biofuels and nutritional supplements for food.

AST can conduct many other chemical and biological processes besides its patented Organosolv process which allow it to provide more services for potential customers and partners who would like to use its facilities for their own research and development.