AdvanceBio Systems supplies bench-scale bioreactor to CENER

By Erin Voegele | July 16, 2012

AdvanceBio Systems LLC recently announced that the National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain selected its SuPR2G Bench Scale Pretreatment Reactor though a global competitive bidding process. CENER will use the reactor to conduct basic research and development work related to the extraction of sugars from cellulosic biomass. The system will be used for research, development and demonstration activities in CENER’s Second Generation Biofuels Center in Navarra, Spain.

According to Rick Agar, AdvanceBio Systems’ director of technology, the SuPR2G reactor is a small, lab-scale continuous-feed pretreatment reactor that his company has designed and built for the research community. “Prior to our introduction of this piece of equipment, researchers relied on batch-scale steam guns as high-pressure reactors for their research and development programs,” he said. “There are a number of disadvantages of using a batch bioreactor. If there are looking for short retention times, there is a great deal of difference in the reaction times from the material that is close to the introduction to the steam, versus far away from the introduction of steam, so you get a very wide spread of reaction and kinetics.” That results in under-reacted material that creates low sugar yields, and over-reacted material that can produce inhibitors that limit fermentation reactions. “It’s only by having a continuous system that you can optimize the time and get enough reaction without having any of the material over reacted,” Agar continued.

The SuPR2G reactor uses technology that is used on a commercial scale in the pulp and paper industry. AdvanceBio Systems has scaled down that technology to produce the smallest-scale continuous-feed system possible. Working with a continuous feed system is important for researchers because it allow positive results to be more efficiently scaled-up, Agar continued.

While AdvanceBio Systems has received several orders for the SuPR2G system, Agar stresses that his company is also able to supply larger-scale systems to the industry. “We’ve quoted a number of demonstration-scale and commercial-scale systems,” he said, noting that AdvanceBio Systems is cable of delivering reactors that can accept up to 2,000 dry tons per day of feedstock. The company has partnered with a fabricator to support the construction of larger-scale systems. 

Regarding the SuPR2G system that will be implemented at CENER, Bipin Shroff, a principal of AdvanceBio Systems, said that his company will collaborate in CENER’s research and development effort, not only in pretreatment, but also with other interrelated technologies. Agar explained that AdvanceBio Systems will work with CENER to optimize the chemistry and kinetics of their pretreatment operations, as well as downstream operations such as fermentation.