EdeniQ, IKA offer new 'Super Cellunator' biomass milling tech

By Bryan Sims | July 07, 2011

EdeniQ Inc. and IKA Works Inc., a subsidiary of German firm IKA Werke GmbH Co. KG, have agreed on a mutually exclusive global agreement for the supply of biomass mixing and milling technology for the advanced biofuels and biochemical markets, and for the ongoing development of biomass milling process technologies.

EdeniQ and IKA first formalized their partnership in 2009 with the signing of an exclusive manufacturing agreement for a proprietary milling device trademarked by EdeniQ as the Cellunator. The Cellunator has been installed by EdeniQ at corn-ethanol plants across the country to consistently provide optimal particle sizing, releasing bound starch thereby increasing ethanol plant yield by up to 5 percent. During 18 months of commercial operations, EdeniQ touts that its Cellunators have provided corn yield enhancements with minimal maintenance or negative impact on ancillary plant processes.

As the collaboration evolved, according to EdeniQ Chief Financial Officer Scott Janssen, both companies decided to formalize their ongoing research and development efforts with a focus on offering milling and mixing equipment specifically for biomass conversion. The development work with focus on EdeniQ’s proprietary pretreatment process, including an enhanced version of the Cellunator designed for processing cellulosic biomass under the development moniker, Super Cellunator.

The Super Cellunator, Janssen said, will be showcased at EdeniQ’s Corn-to-Cellulosic Ethanol Migration pilot plant at its headquarters in Visalia, Calif. 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. 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.

Once the Super Cellunator technology has successfully demonstrated operational feasibility at the Visalia pilot facility, Janssen said plans are to license the equipment to existing corn-ethanol producers for potential retrofit projects that enable cellulosic processes or for future greenfield cellulosic ethanol plants. IKA will be the exclusive provider of the Super Cellunator.

“We’re really excited,” Janssen told Biorefining Magazine. “I think we’ve kind of hit an inflection point where the particle sizing market and the corn-ethanol industry is taking shape and we’re definitely coming out as a frontrunner and best-in-breed there.”

Janssen was careful not to disclose too much regarding what competitive advantages the Super Cellunator may hold over the original Cellunator, but emphasized the importance of how EdeniQ and IKA arrived at being able to exchange expertise in the development of the equipment

“[IKA] are experts in mixing and milling and we’re experts in process flows, chemical reactions and biomass conversions, so we just put our heads together and we committed to each other to create the Super Cellunator,” Janssen said. “It’s a combination of process improvements really from both sides.”