M&G breaks ground on 13 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant in Italy

By Novozymes | April 12, 2011

A significant step was taken towards commercialization of cellulosic ethanol April 12 when Novozymes partner Mossi & Ghisolfi Group conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for a 13 MMgy 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,” said 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 biobased substitutes for a range of other petrochemical products and chemical intermediates."

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,” said 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 coproduct 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.