Great potential for sugar based chemistry

Sugar based chemistry has great potential. Willem Sederel, director of Biobased Delta, emphasized this at the official opening of a pilot production plant for bioethanol at Acrres in Lelystad this week.

"I certainly see potential for bio-refineries that process sugar beet on a local scale," Sederel says. “Although there are still some issues to be tackled, and that is exactly what the pilot plant is built for.” “Not only does the underlying patented Betaprocess technology has to be be scaled up, the process must also be able to run on different types of feedstock as well. After all, sugar beet can only cover part of the year. Ideally, you would wish to produce the whole year round, using other raw materials as well."

Also, the chemical industry must be abled to purchase this bioethanol, which is a matter of adequate and sufficient supply. As long as there are only a couple of producing farmers, this will not be sufficient. It is all about scale, and by extension pricing. Sederel particular sees opportunities for niche products, still worth millions of tons a year. Like for instance bio-components like ethylene, mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) and (bio) ethylene oxide for producing acrylates, coatings, personal care products, etc.

The pilot plant in Lelystad will be started up soon as possible. This plant will produce 150.000 m3 of bio-ethanol annually. The Betaprocess technology operates on the principle of vacuum extrusion (at a temperature of about 70°C). DSD says this technology is so effective, that the hydrolysis step does not require enzymes anymore. This is not only cost saving, Hans van Klink (DSD) says, it also increases the yield (bioethanol and biogas) and lowers the digestate volume.