Axens Advanced Technology For Cellulosic Ethanol Treatment 31.10.2019

Discover Futurol™, the Advanced Technology For Cellulosic Ethanol Treatment commercialized by Axens, in this interview of Axens Marketing and External Communication Vice President Eric Benazzi, Axens Bio technology Team Manager Larissa Perotta, and Axens Renewables Business Development Director Frédéric Balligand.

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Axens Marketing and External Communication Vice President Eric Benazzi:

When I look at the various biofuels policies, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard in the US, and the Renewable Energy Directive II in Europe, the second generation biofuel market is expected to grow substantially over the coming years.

Today, I would like to focus on cellulosic ethanol produced from biomass residues. It presents two main advantages: It is produced from non-food crops, so it doesn’t affect food security. And second, it reduces 90% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil gasoline, which is crucial to curb greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

11 partners have developed Futurol™, a technology for the production of cellulosic ethanol, from biomass residues. This technology is now commercialized by Axens.

Larissa, please, could you tell us more about this technology and its main advantages?

Axens Bio technology Team Manager Larissa Perotta:

Of course, Éric. So as you mentioned, Futurol™ converts residual biomass (like straw, wood-chips and residues from other industries) into ethanol.

It’s a very simple and integrated 4-step process, which starts with the standardization of the biomass through a pretreatment. Here, any biomass fed to the unit will look like this at the outlet, and this is really the key to our flexibility.

Once pretreated, the biomass can then be converted to ethanol through enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation. And, as cost-competitiveness is vital, this pretreated biomass can also be used to produce locally the biocatalysts that are used in the main conversion step.

The final step of the technology consists in product separation and is very important for process integration and energy self-sufficiency.

Now Frédéric, what about the commercialization of Futurol™? Where do we stand today?

Axens Renewables Business Development Director Frédéric Balligand:

Well after 8 years of research and continuous development, Futurol™ is most definitely the best option on the market today. The technology was successfully proven at pilot and semi-industrial scales, the largest ever built pre-treatment unit in the world.

Now according to the International Energy Agency, transport biofuel consumption is not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Scenario. A 10% growth per year is required by 2030 to align it and this huge growth has to be provided by advanced biofuels, such as ethanol from Futurol™.

We, at Axens, are committed to the energy transition and well on the way to fulfil this need. Futurol™ is not only a breakthrough technology, it is the platform for the next generation renewable chemicals. A myriad of molecules can be derived from Futurol™ and that is the key to striving towards a sustainable environment.

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