The business model currently under development for second generation ethanol is a replication of the model used for first generation which is plants with massive annual production capacities. Such high production rates require high capital investment and huge amounts of biomasses (250-350,000 tons per year) concentrated in small radius catchment areas to afford transportation costs (50 km). Under such conditions, opportunities for installing plants in most rural areas in Europe and worldwide are scarce.
The objective of the project is to develop an alternative solution for the production of 2G ethanol, competitive at smaller industrial scale and therefore applicable to a large amount of countries, rural areas and feedstocks. The target is to reach technical, environmental and economical viabilities in production units processing at least 30,000 tons equivalent dry biomass per year. This approach will definitely enlarge the scope of biomass feedstocks exploitable for the production of biofuel and create better conditions for the deployment of production sites, to the benefit of rural areas in Europe and worldwide.
The main concept underpinning the project relies on a new biomass conversion process able to run all the steps from the pre-treatment of the raw material to the enzymatic pre-hydrolysis in one-stage-reactor under mild operating conditions. This new process recently developed to TRL 4, offers the most integrated and compact solution for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass for the production of ethanol developed so far, and it will lead to reduced capital and operation expenditures. The new process will be developed to TRL 5 in the project with the goal of achieving satisfactory technical, environmental and economical performances in relevant operation environment. The project will investigate and select business cases for installations of demonstration/first-of-a-kind small-scale industrial plants in different European and Latino American countries.