On the way to commercial production of cellulosic ethanol
The sunliquid® process has been running successfully in the pilot plant at Clariant’s Munich research centre since the beginning of 2009.
In July 2010, the next step was taken with the construction of Germany´s largest cellulosic ethanol plant to date in Straubing near Munich. The plant went into operation in July 2012. It confirmed the technological feasibility of the sunliquid® technology at large scale. The demonstration plant represents an important step towards commercialisation of the sunliquid® process – and ultimately the market launch of a sustainable process for producing climate-friendly fuels. The plant produces up to 1,000 tons of bioethanol per year. Initially, cereal straw was the main feedstock, some 4,500 tons being processed each year. Since May 2013 first test runs with corn stover and sugarcane bagasse have been performed, showing promising results and confirming the global potential of the technology. The Straubing plant essentially serves to validate the sunliquid® process, but will also serve to create training facilities for staff employed by both investors and subsequent production plant operators.
In September 2013, Clariant received the “International Sustainability & Carbon Certification” (ISCC) for the sunliquid® demonstration plant in Straubing. This certificate confirms that the cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues produced with the sunliquid® technology is compliant with the sustainability criteria set out in the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
In January 2014, a fleet test conducted by Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz demonstrated that second-generation biofuels based on agricultural residues are now technologically ready and available, not only in production but in application as well. The project uses sunliquid20, a high-quality petrol (RON > 100) containing 20 % cellulosic ethanol produced in Straubing. Petrol with 20 % ethanol can already be used easily in the latest Mercedes-Benz BlueDIRECT petrol engines that are available today in series vehicles.
With the start of the EU-funded project SUNLIQUID in April 2014, an important step towards commercialisation was taken: The demonstration in a first-of-its-kind large scale installation is a critical hurdle in the commercial deployment of the technology. In the long term, Clariant intends to subsequently license out this technology.