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Syngenta to license ACE technology to boost ethanol plant productivity

Syngenta announced this week an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, to license its ACE (Adding Cellulosic Ethanol) technology. The ACE technology, which is designed for dry grind ethanol plants, can increase an ethanol plant’s production by about six percent, says Jack Bernens, Enogen marketing and stakeholder relations manager.

In combination with Syngenta’s proprietary Enogen corn trait, the ACE technology allows the fiber as well as the starch in a corn kernel to be converted into ethanol. A corn kernel contains about seven percent fiber, so a good percentage of this fiber is converted into ethanol rather than going into dried distillers grains (DDGs) as it traditionally has been, Bernens says.

The ACE technology also increases corn oil production, Bernens says. Using conventional ethanol production processes, ethanol plants generally extract about one-half pound of corn oil per bushel of corn. With the ACE technology, ethanol plants should be able to extract approximately 1.6 pounds of corn oil per bushel of corn. This is because a significant amount of oil is bound to the corn fiber, Bernens says.

Over the last five years, corn oil has become an increasingly important asset to ethanol plants as it can be used as a biodiesel feedstock. Last year, the ethanol industry produced about 13.24 billion gallons of ethanol. Of that, dry grind ethanol plants produced between 11.9 billion and 12.24 billion gallons of ethanol (the remainder came from wet mills).

If every dry grind ethanol plant used the ACE process, they could produce approximately 1.5 billion gallons of corn oil for biodiesel and approximately 800 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, Bernens says.

In addition, the ACE-Enogen technology will enable ethanol plants to further reduce natural gas consumption by as much as 14 percent, Bernens says. During ethanol production, the Enogen corn enzyme thins the mash, which allows a higher level of solids loading. The energy required to heat the mash is reduced because it takes less energy to heat solids, Bernens says.

Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies is a subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP). In fact, the ACE technology is expected to be launched at QCCP’s ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa, next month.

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