G2 BioChem to commercialize GreenField's cellulosic technology

By Erin Voegele | May 16, 2011

Toronto-based GreenField Ethanol Inc. has announced the launch of G2 BioChem, a collaborative partnership that will acquire, validate and commercialize GreenField’s cellulosic ethanol production technology. According to information released by GreenField, G2 BioChem is backed by a group of partners and collaborators that includes Andritz AG and Novozymes. GreenField Vice President of Business Development Barry Wortzman adds that the new company has a limited partnership structure, with one general partner and several limited partners.

The cellulosic technology developed by GreenField involves enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation. “The core of our technology is our conditioning and pretreatment,” Wortzman said. “We have designed a very flexible process technology that can process at the front end a variety of different feedstocks, and has the capability to generate what I call very clean, discrete strains of C5 and C6 sugars from the hemicelluloses and cellulose material, respectively. What that means in simple terms is you have a very good environment for your enzymes and your fermenting yeasts to operate.”

Although the process is feedstock flexible, Wortzman said that the particular feedstock employed at each future plant will be dependent upon the local resources that are available. He said that initial commercial-scale plants will likely be co-located with existing first-generation ethanol facilities, and will utilize the waste biomass that comes from the first-generation feedstock. For example, cobs and stover would be employed by a cellulosic plant co-located with a corn ethanol plant, while bagasse would be employed at a sugarcane ethanol plant. He also noted that there is great potential to use dedicated energy crops as feedstock in the future.

To date, GreenField’s cellulosic technology has been evaluated at pilot scale. “The pilot facility is supported by a full-scale laboratory and has been in operation since about 2008,” Wortzman said. “The pilot itself is a 1-ton-per-day batch pilot plant…We have done thousands of trials on various feedstocks at our pilot plant over the past few years.” A 5-ton-per-day continuous demo-scale facility is currently under development.

The technology has been supported by a number of federal and Ontario provincial programs and agencies, including Sustainable Development Canada, Innovation Development Fund, Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, and Center for Research & Development in the Bio-economy. “We are most grateful to our partners, collaborators and federal and Ontario government supporters, without whom we would not have been able to achieve what we have,” Wortzman said. “To successfully commercialize its process technology, G2 BioChem is continuing to reach out to partners and collaborators for support and input.”