EdeniQ holds groundbreaking ceremony in California

By Bryan Sims | May 21, 2011

State, county and city dignitaries were on hand to witness the official groundbreaking of EdeniQ Inc.’s Corn-to-Cellulosic Migration pilot plant at EdeniQ’s headquarters in Visalia, Calif.

EdeniQ had been optimizing its biomass conversion technology at its existing cellulosic ethanol pilot plant in Visalia since 2006, but produced mainly batch quantities of cellulosic ethanol product. The objective of the CCM project, according to EdeniQ Vice President of Business Development Peter Kilner, will be to produce larger volumes of cellulosic ethanol from cellulosic biomass such as corn stover, wood chips and switchgrass in a continuous process.

“We’re excited about it,” Kilner told Biorefining Magazine. “Groundbreaking ceremonies are a bit of a pause to celebrate along the way and it’s nice to recognize these milestones. We continue to be firing on all cylinders and get this biorefinery up and running.”

EdeinQ’s process involves employing a mechanical pretreatment technology that uses no acids, bases, high temperatures or pressures, according to Kilner. At the center of its pretreatment process is EdeniQ’s proprietary slurry milling device, trademarked The Cellunator, which cost-effectively reduces the average particle size of milled corn without increasing fines. The process is followed by a saccharification step involoving proprietary enzymes that convert the biomass into intermediate sugars. From there the process continues to a fermentation step where the yeasts feed on the sugars to produce cellulosic ethanol and lignin.

Scheduled to be operational by the first quarter of 2012, the new pilot facility will be capable of producing approximately 140 gallons per day (about 40,000 gallons per year) of cellulosic ethanol from 2 tons of cellulosic biomass per day, according to Kilner.

“We hope to squeeze as much ethanol out of it as possible,” he said.

In December 2009, EdeniQ and its engineering firm, Logos Technologies Inc., were selected by the U.S. DOE’s Integrated Biorefinery Program to receive $20.5 million to help cover the cost toward the retrofit project.