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Business

Aemetis plans California cellulosic ethanol plant

by Melody M. Bomgardner
March 19, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 12

California biofuels and biobased chemicals firm Aemetis says it will move forward with a 45 million-L-per-year cellulosic ethanol facility outside Modesto. The company plans to use waste from local agricultural operations, including walnut and almond orchards, as feedstock. First the waste wood and hulls will be gasified using technology licensed from EnTech. The resulting synthesis gas will then be fed to gas-fermenting microbes using technology from LanzaTech. In addition to ethanol, the plant will produce proteins for aquaculture. The company says an outside engineering firm has verified that a demonstration unit using the technologies produced over 290 L of ethanol per ton of feedstock. Aemetis hopes to succeed where others have failed. Two of three cellulosic ethanol facilities that began operations in the Midwest have been shuttered. In California, however, oil refiners and fuel distributors are required to lower the carbon intensity of their fuels by 10% by 2020; the rule provides a significant price boost for ethanol made from waste.

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