Of all renewable resources, cellulosic ethanol holds the single greatest potential to replace petroleum based transportation fuels. Cellulose is the material that comprises the cellular structure of all plants and is the most abundant organic matter on earth. A study conducted by the USDA in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that more than 1 billion tons of cellulosic biomass from corn stover, straw, other forages, agricultural residues, and wood wastes can be sustainably collected and processed in the U.S. annually.
That represents an equivalent of 67 billion gallons of ethanol – just from cellulose that is now viewed as residues or waste. Sandia National Laboratory projects that 75 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol could be produced annually in the U.S. by 2030, more than half of current U.S. gasoline usage.
Cellulose is a polymer of glucose, a simple sugar that can easily be fermented to make ethanol. Ethanol is a high-octane alcohol fuel that burns cleanly. The fermentation and distillation of cellulosic ethanol is basically the same process used to produce grain ethanol. The main difference between producing grain ethanol and cellulosic ethanol is the technology at the front end of the process. That’s where Vecoplan comes in.
Vecoplan provides mechanical technologies that aid in the preparation of cellulosic biomass prior to hydrolysis, or breaking the material down into simple sugars that can then be fermented and distilled. One of the major technologies that Vecoplan currently provides to cellulosic ethanol manufactures is size reduction in the form of large industrial shredders. Vecoplan shredders feature screened output, allowing you to not only determine, but also change the particle size needed to meet the requirements of particular feedstocks and specific “next-stage” processes.
Vecoplan also offers screening, sorting and separation machinery to remove the “tramp” materials, such as dirt, stones and metals, often found in cellulosic feedstocks like agricultural and forestry residues. Systems, from Vecoplan, that combine multiple shredding, screening, sorting and separation technologies are used to recover and prepare the cellulosic biomass found in our industrial, commercial and consumer waste streams.
Specific machines incorporated into Vecoplan prep systems are determined by the composition of the cellulosic biomass feeding into the system and the specifications required to prepare the material for hydrolysis. Machinery and technologies available from Vecoplan for cellulosic biomass prep systems include: Receiving stations, Primary size reduction, Screening, Air classification, Metals separation, Optical sorting, Secondary shredding, Storage, Testing, Metered feeding, Conveying between workstations, and Integrated controls for the entire system. Most systems employ some, but not all of these.
Knowing which to specify and how to incorporate the best technologies to get the job done is the key to success. Vecoplan has the expertise to ensure the effective and efficient processing of your cellulosic biomass and thereby the profitability of your overall system.
If we are to free ourselves from fossil fuel dependency, then cellulosic ethanol truly is the wave of the future!