skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Final Technical Report

ZeaChem Inc. and US DOE successfully demonstrated the ZeaChem process for producing sugars and ethanol from high-impact biomass feedstocks. The project was executed over a 5-year period under a $31.25 million cooperative agreement (80:20 Federal:ZeaChem cost share). The project was managed by dividing it into three budget periods. Activities during Budget Period 1 were limited to planning, permitting, and other pre-construction planning. Budget Period 2 activities included engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning, start-up and initial operations through the Independent Engineer Test Runs. The scope of construction was limited to the Chem Frac and Hydrogenolysis units, as the Core Facility was already in place. Construction was complete in December 2012, and the first cellulosic ethanol was produced in February 2013. Additional operational test runs were conducted during Budget Period 3 (completed June 2015) using hybrid poplar, corn stover, and wheat straw feedstocks, resulting in the production of cellulosic ethanol and various other biorefinery intermediates. The research adds to the understanding of the Chem Frac and Hydrogenolysis technologies in that the technical performance of each unit was measured, and the resulting data and operational experience can be used as the basis for engineering designs, thus mitigating risks for deployment in future commercial facilities.more » The Chem Frac unit was initially designed to be operated as two-stage dilute acid hydrolysis, with first stage conditions selected to remove the hemicellulose fraction of the feedstock, and the second stage conditions selected to remove the cellulose fraction. While the Chem Frac unit met or exceeded the design capacity of 10 ton(dry)/day, the technical effectiveness of the Chem Frac unit was below expectations in its initial two-stage dilute acid configuration. The sugars yields were low, the sugars were dilute, and the sugars had poor fermentability caused by excessive inhibitors from wood breakdown products, resulting in a non-viable process from an economic point of view. Later runs with the Chem Frac unit switched to a configuration that used dilute acid pretreatment followed by enzymatic hydrolysis. This change improved yield, increased sugar concentrations, and improved fermentability of sugars. The Hydrogenolysis unit met or exceeded all expectations with respect to unit capacity, technical performance, and economic performance. The US DOE funds for the project were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In addition to the scientific/technical merit of the project, this project benefited the public through the creation of approximately 75 onsite direct construction-related jobs, 25 direct on-going operations-related jobs, plus numerous indirect jobs, and thus was well aligned with the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.« less
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. ZeaChem Inc., Lakewood, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
ZeaChem Inc., Lakewood, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS biofuels