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Syngenta US News

Syngenta discusses the future of cellulosic ethanol and opportunities for dry grind ethanol producers

  • Corn kernel fiber a significant opportunity for dry grind ethanol plants
  • 12 million tons of fiber feedstock already available at U.S. dry grind ethanol plants could produce a potential 1.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol
  • Cellulosic biofuel volume requirements, demand for low carbon intensity fuels highlight market potential
MINNETONKA, Minn., USA, – Developments in cellulosic ethanol technology, including a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, are viewed as opportunities to help grow demand for Earth-friendly American ethanol.
According to Miloud Araba, head of Enogen® technical services at Syngenta, cellulosic innovation could enable dry grind ethanol producers to capitalize on steadily increasing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements for cellulosic biofuels, which are up 35 percent for 2017.1 Araba discussed opportunities for cellulosic ethanol at the 2017 National Ethanol Conference.
“Approximately 10 percent of the corn kernel dry weight is fiber, and converting corn kernel fiber feedstock to cellulosic ethanol has been possible for some time,” Araba said. “However, recent advances in technologies can enable commercial deployment today. In fact, the approximately 12 million tons of corn kernel fiber feedstock already available at U.S. dry grind ethanol plants each year could produce a potential 1.5 billion gallons of additional, cellulosic ethanol.”
Araba added that the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) offers further opportunities for corn kernel fiber. “Low carbon intensity fuel that puts out fewer emissions will be increasingly needed in California to meet the goals of the LCFS program and the demand for LCFS credits,” he said. “Looking ahead, cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber will be in demand because long-term objectives of the LCFS cannot be met with D6 ethanol at 10 percent.”2
In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added corn kernel fiber to the list of qualifying cellulosic biofuel feedstocks as part of the RFS. That same year, using Cellerate™ process technology, Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) was the first commercial cellulosic facility – using corn kernel fiber as feedstock – and achieved EPA certification to generate D3 RINs. Through November 2016, QCCP’s output represented approximately 85 percent of D3 RIN ethanol produced. To date, QCCP has produced more than 5.5 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol.
Araba added that Cellerate enables an ethanol plant to leverage its existing infrastructure to produce cellulosic ethanol and significantly increase throughput. Performance results achieved at QCCP to date include: a six percent yield increase plus a 20 percent throughput increase combined for a 26 percent increase in ethanol production3; higher protein feed co-products; and improved oil yield.
“In addition to improvements in throughput and yield, Cellerate enhanced by Enogen® corn enzyme technology drives corn oil yield, leads to increased protein levels and lower residual starch content in co-products,” Araba said. “Protein increases were observed immediately after Cellerate was integrated at QCCP in July of 2014. Initial feed formulation evaluations have shown that Cellerate can lead to an increase in the value of feed co-products, as well as potential access to higher value feed markets.”4
For Cellerate technical inquiries, or a tour of the Cellerate process at QCCP, please contact Tim Tierney with Syngenta at 612-801-9775 or Travis Brotherson with QCCP at 712-282-4628. Learn more about Cellerate process technology at
1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
3Based on third-party verification procedures performed in 2016 by Christianson & Associates PLLP, a firm of certified public accountants and consultants.
4Composition values based on Cellerate DDGs samples used in poultry and swine digestibility studies at the University of Illinois, 2016.
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