Gevo brings new fermenter and separation system online

By Chris Hanson | August 02, 2013

Gevo Inc. announced it brought its second 1 million liter fermenter and Gevo integrated fermentation technology (GIFT) separation system online at its facility in Luverne, Minn.

“We have been successful in operating full-scale fermentations using our GIFT system – which separates the isobutanol from the fermentation broth – on a second million-liter fermenter and GIFT system,” said Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “This serves to further validate our technology and plant know-how.” He added they plan on bringing the last fermenters and systems online later this year and increasing production through 2013 and 2014.

Addressing contamination was one of the biggest challenges bringing the second fermenter online. Brett Lund, executive vice president of Gevo, said remaining yeast and other alcohols in the facility had the potential of contaminating the isobutanol. To address these issues, Lund explained, Gevo re-piped its production pathways to discover where contamination problems originated. “Once we were getting the contamination issues, we didn’t know exactly where the contamination was coming from,” Lund said. “By isolating each of the fermenters, then bringing them online individually, like we are doing now, is much easier to determine where it is coming from.”

If the Luverne facility is successful, Lund expected to see the technology implemented at other sites as well. He said with the fully-executed joint venture agreement with Redfield Energy in South Dakota, Gevo will contribute the technology and funding for the retrofit and split the revenue with the plant. “But we won’t start on our second plant until the first one is optimized and running exactly the way we want it,” Lund said. “Then we can take all the lessons from the first plant in Luverne and apply them to the next plant.”

Lund said the next goals are to bring the next fermenter online and to produce 1 million gallons each month by the end of 2013. Gevo plans to sell the isobutanol in specialty chemicals and oxygenated fuel blendstock markets. Furthermore, it will be used to make jet fuel and chemical products, such as paraxylene.