Biomass to Market

Furfural Residue: Ideal Feedstock For Cellulosic Ethanol

31 July 2013
Pretreated & preconditioned feedstock

In 2008/09 we used lignocellulosic residues from furfural production to successfully make cellulosic ethanol. It was a continuation of an experiment done during the 1980s, except that this time around we had better and more suitable (used the latest commercially available) enzymes that were supplied by Novozyme (Denmark), Yeasts from NCP (South Africa) and residue from DalinYebo's pilot plant. The pilot plant's process conditions modifies the structure of the lignocellulosic material, and in particular cause an amelioration of the recalcitrance of cellulose. In addition, the pilot plant's conversion of hemicelluloses to furfural and furfural-related polymers could result in a residue which is essentially free hemicelluloses and furfural (2% residual pentosans).

From these experiments, we concluded that furfural production is the most economic process to remove the C5-sugars from a cellulosic ethanol pre-treatment process. It will prevent subsequent furfural (or furfuryl alcohol) formation that poisons (attacks) the fermentation yeasts. In addition, revenue will be derived from what 'traditionally' is a capital and operating cost. DalinYebo seeks long-term agreements to supply a growing market.

Since the conclusion of the laboratory experiments, we have evaluated the processes of three leading developers of cellulosic ethanol technologies. We are under NDA with one of them, and treat the info received from the others likewise. Two of them are in North America and the third is from Europe. All three of them developed their processes using agricultural residues (corn stover or wheat straw). They have supplied us with the data based on their proprietary process routes/conditions and there is no doubt that with a comparatively low investment a significant bottom line contribution could be obtained from an integrated furfural production.

In April 2012, Novozyme and Shengquan Group (Shandong, China) announced a partnership that will see the construction of the first cellulosic ethanol plant, which is fed by residue from their furfural plant.


Furfural boots the financials of cellulosic ethanol plants!