Terrabon facility to be completed in October

By Bryan Sims
Web exclusive posted Sept. 9, 2008 at 3:21 p.m. CST

Construction on Houston-based Terrabon LLC's new semi-works biofuels conversion facility in Bryan, Texas, is progressing as scheduled. The company expects construction to be completed in October.

Ground was broken on the facility in May. Terrabon will use the facility to study the commercial feasibility of its proprietary MixAlco technology, which is capable of converting readily-available, low-cost, non-food biomass into a variety of transportation fuels and chemicals such as organic salts, organic acids (for acetic acid), ketones (for acetone), esters, ethers, aldehydes and secondary alcohols that can be further refined into renewable gasoline. Terrabon holds the exclusive licensing rights from Texas A&M University for this unique acid fermentation technology.

When completed, the new facility will have a loading capacity of 400 dry tons of biomass; equal to a loading rate of five dry tons per day. Terrabon said it will initially use sorghum as the primary feedstock with the goal of producing organic salts and converting them into ketones. The MixAlco technology has been successfully tested for the past three years at Terrabon's pilot plant on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The pilot plant can process up to 200 dry pounds per day of biomass from feedstocks ranging from waste paper to chicken manure.

The brainchild behind the technology is Dr. Mark Holtzapple, professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, who has spent 15 years researching and refining the technology. Since 1995 Terrabon has funded development of the technology and its intellectual property, which includes 12 U.S. patents and more than 14 U.S. patent applications, as well as numerous others in international markets.

The research that led to the development of the MixAlco technology also led to two additional products � SoluPro, which converts inexpensive protein-bearing waste material into animal feed and environmentally-friendly commercial adhesives, and AdVE, which utilizes advanced vapor-compression evaporation to substantially reduce the capital and operating costs of purification for brackish and salty water. Terrabon plans to license all three technologies and enter into joint ventures with other companies and municipalities.

"We are pleased with the speed and efficiency with which this facility has been developed and we look forward to bringing it online by year-end," said Gary Luce, Terrabon's chief executive officer.

Luce said the company also plans to continue the aggressive scale-up of the MixAlco technology and support its sub-licensees focused on asset development, such as Byogy Renewables. Byogy recently announced the licensing of an integrated biofuels process from The Texas A&M University System that is supported, in part, by Terrabon's licensed intellectual property portfolio.