Italian PET producer M&G builds first industrial lignocellulosic bioethanol plant


Crescentino/Tortona – Chemtex, the engineering arm of Italian PET producer Mossi & Ghisolfi Group has started to build to the world’s first industrial plant for fermentation of second generation bioethanol from cheap straw feeds, termed Italian BioProducts (IBP). The plant with a capacity of 40,000 annual tons of lignocellulosic bioethanol will start operations in 2012 and is competitive to fossil fuels from a barrel price of US$60-$70, which is US$40 less than the current price for a barrel of raw oil. If the technology shows industrial feasibility, the company plans to transfer the process to an existing first generation bioethanol plant with a capacity of 100,000 annual tons. According to PET world market leader Mossi & Ghisolfi, the Italian market for bioethanol fuels is expected to reach 1.5 million tons per year by 2020 due to European Commission plans to establish E10 gazoline with a 10% bioethanol content by then. Acreage of 3% of the Italian agricultural area with an optimised version of the low-input energy crop Giant Reed (Arundo donax) would deliver enough straw to satisfy this market need. Within 5 years of research and an overall investment of US$ 120 million, Chemtex which also is developing processes to manufacture ethylene and ethylene glycol from lignocellulosic bioethanol, has transferred its ProEsa technology from lab scale to industrial demonstration scale. Tests of the process in Mossi & Ghisolfi’s pilot plant in Rivalta showed that a new chemical-free pre-treatment of different straw feeds with or without subsequent enzymatic digestion delivered high yields of C5 and C6 sugars that are simultaneously fermented to bioethanol in a continuous enzyme reactor which could be yielded by an improved low energy process and can recycle lignin to produce energy to power the plant. Chemtex’ partner Novozymes, which was involved in enzyme optimisation, announced appropriate straw feeds would range from wheat straw to energy crops. However, overall cost-effectiveness would be dependent on a low price of the raw materials, according to presentations of M&G’s global R&D chief Dario Giordano. Currently, feed cost is at US$6.50 for producing an energy equivalent of 1 barrel of oil, Chemtex engineers stressed at Italian infocast event in Milan this February, justifying the high development costs of the process. If the patented Pro ESA technology succeeds, it could provide a greener route to ethylene glycol, one of the starting materials for PET production. Currently Mossi & Ghisolfi Group manufactures 1,3 million annual tons of PET through polycondensation of ethylene glycol with terephtalic acid. German Süd-Chemie, which was recently acquired by Swiss Clariant will start a demonstration plant for lignocellulosic bioethanol production with 2,000 annual tons capacity this year with its Sun Liquid technology which works with fungal cultures that produce the expensive enzymes needed for fermentation and lignocellulose break-down on-site.



Rome – The Italian GMO-saga continues. After Italy’s Council of State recently overturned a ban on the cultivation of genetically modified MON810 maize, the political empire is striking back. Federal Minister for Agriculture Luca...



Siena – Roche AG is pursuing Alzheimer therapies developed by Siena Biotech. The Swiss pharma company has decided to exercise an option to become the lead party for the further development and commercialisation of certain...



Arcavacata di Rende (Italy) – Researchers from the University of Calabria have established that activation of the nuclear farnesoid X receptor (FXR) can slow the growth of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells. It is the first...

Switzerland, ItalyItaly


Siena/Basel - Roche has committed to the compounds the Italian outfit Siena Biotech is developing for the use against Alzheimer's disease. The Swiss pharma company will exercise its option to become the lead party for further...



Lainate – Cosmo’s bid for its Italian peer BioXell was successful. At the end of the acceptance period on February 26th, the Italian drug developer traded at the Zurich stock exchange, held 98.96% of all BioXell shares. The offer...



Rome – The Consiglio di Stato, Italy‘s highest court, has overturned the standing ban on the cultivation of genetically modified Mon810 maize. According to the Court, say local papers, Italian farmers do not have to wait with the...



Milan – A court in Milan has given bio­pharmaceutical company MolMed some preliminary breathing space regarding possible patent infringement with MolMed’s cell therapy for the treatment of haematological malignancies (more...)....



Rome – Sigma-Tau S.p.A has achieved promising initial results in a clinical study to evaluate the potential of Zadaxin to increase immune response to the MF59 adjuvanted H1N1 influenza monovalent vaccine Focetria from Novartis....



Lainate – Cosmo Pharmaceuticals has published its public tender offer to acquire all of fellow Italian company Bio­Xell’s outstanding shares. The specialist for optimised generics first offered to buy BioXell for CHF41.3m...



Lainate – Italian company Cosmo Pharmaceuticals SpA has anounced to launch a public tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of BioXell SpA. According to the pre-announcement, the drug manufacturer’s offer includes a total...

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