ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) have signed a joint research agreement with Clariant to evaluate the potential use of cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste and residues to produce biofuel. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In a previous joint venture, ExxonMobil and REG have successfully validated the ability of the REG Life Sciences bio-conversion technology to convert sugars from cellulosic biomass into biodiesel through a single-step process. This bio-conversion process should be optimized by using cellulosic sugars created through Clariant’s sunliquid® process. The idea is to combine Clariant’s and REG’s processes into a seamless cellulosic biomass-to-biodiesel technology.
Clariant’s sunliquid® process allows all lignocellulosic feedstocks to be converted at a commercially viable basis. After a chemical-free pre-treatment, a specially produced enzyme mixture hydrolyzes cellulose and hemicellulose chains to form sugar monomers. Optimized enzymes then simultaneously ferment all these sugars to ethanol which is purified with the help of adsorbers. Clariant will conduct trials at its pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany, using different types of cellulosic feedstock that will be converted into sugars for conversion by REG and ExxonMobil into high-quality, low-carbon biodiesel.
In addition, the partners will work on a conceptual engineering study to validate the feasibility of the integrated process comprising the technologies of all parties.