The project aim was to demonstrate, at pre-commercial scale, cost competitive process technology to produce biobutanol from municipal solid waste (MSW) that provides significant reductions in GHG emissions compared with first generation biofuel. MSW is one of the most attractive feedstocks for advanced biofuel production in Europe both from the perspective of costs and sustainability.
The project was to develop a tailored solution to produce glucose syrup from MSW fibre, utilising a proprietary technology currently used for the pre-treatment and fermentation of agricultural residues into ethanol. It was to produce and optimise a tailored enzyme cocktail for the production of glucose syrup at lab and pilot scale. The enzyme production process would also be optimised to demonstrate cost-effective process technology.
An advanced and proprietary fermentation process for butanol was to be applied to the pre-treated MSW at both bench and pre-commercial pilot scale, with the aim of demonstrating butanol yields comparable to those achieved using pure sugars and a three-fold increase in butanol productivity over conventional batch fermentation.
The techno/economic feasibility of blending the butanol to produce advanced biofuels (high octane ethanol and low flash point biodiesel) was to be investigated.
Green Biologics (UK), carried out physical and chemical analysis of a dewatered MSW sample, provided from an external supplier. Design of Experiments (DoE) software was used to plan the experiments for optimising feedstock hydrolysis, evaluating a range of enzymes and enzyme cocktails in raw and homogenised feedstock. The experimental design was executed as planned and a final report is available. The key finding was that 30-45% sugars (dry weight basis) were released from the pre-sorted and autoclaved MSW sample. Homogenisation offered little improvement in sugar release compared to using the raw feedstock and they identified the enzyme cocktail that provided the greatest degree of hydrolysis.
Unfortunately the Spanish companies, Abengoa Research and Abengoa Bioenergia, (one of which was the coordinator), had to withdraw from the project due to the financial situation of the Abengoa Group. As a result of the withdrawal of the project coordinator the BESTF Management Group decided to terminate the project.