Martin Mitchell is a Business Development Manager for the Biofuels & Derivatives Division at Clariant which is based in Munich, Germany. Martin leads the business development efforts to commercialize the sunliquid® process technology in North America, South America and Asia based out of Des Moines, Iowa – USA.
Prior to Martin’s work at Clariant, he was an International Project Manager at the State of Iowa Department of Economic Development where he managed a portfolio of projects in the biotechnology, biofuels and biorenewable chemical sector for seven years and prior to that he was a Global Market Analyst for Kemin Industries where he worked in the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and functional food ingredient sector to develop the global market for nutritional products such as Lutein.
Martin holds a B.A. in Public Relations & Communication from The University of Northern Iowa and an M.B.A. in International Business from Iowa State University including an international study at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Martin is a native Iowan from Mount Pleasant and currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa with his family.
Bringing Cellulosic Ethanol to Scale
Recent years have seen a lot of progress both on the biotechnology as well as on the process development side of cellulosic ethanol technology. Making cellulosic ethanol a reality is all about the value chain. First, let’s look at the feedstock. Lignocelluloses show a huge potential as a new feedstock for the production of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals globally. To ensure supply of biomass at an affordable cost, plants should be designed at a scale that corresponds with a realistic sourcing radius in an area with ample feedstock potential. In addition a thorough planning and management of feedstock procurement and logistics needs to be in place.
Second, the technology has to show best in class, validated commercial performance. Clariant’s sunliquid® technology achieves this performance through a thorough and entirely integrated process design and innovative technology features offering a one-stop shop solution flexible to be used to convert different feedstock and adopt to various plant concepts, combining high process yields with low OPEX and CAPEX. The production cost can compete with those of first-generation bioethanol and the greenhouse gas savings of the sunliquid® ethanol are 95% compared to fossil fuels. Since July 2012 Clariant has successfully been operating a pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany.
Performance runs with wheat straw, corn stover and sugarcane bagasse have shown excellent results and validated the technology further confirming that sunliquid® can be implemented worldwide. Comprehensive tests on over 40 containers of sugarcane bagasse and tops & leaves from Brazil have been performed at pilot and pre-commercial facilities in Straubing, Germany to receive in-depth technical and economic validation of the sunliquid® technology. The performance runs at the pre-commercial plant in Straubing were conducted on multiple variations in composition (bulk and bale) and different qualities of sugarcane bagasse and straw were processed. A yield of up to 300 Liters of ethanol per ton of dry bagasse was achieved and validated during extended performance runs. These tests constitute an important milestone for the realization of a commercial-scale project with sugarcane residues.
Third, you need a simple, harmonized and easy to implement process design. The sunliquid® Process Design Package delivers a technological blueprint for commercial facilities between 50 and 150 kt (20 – 60 million gallons) of ethanol per year. The process uses only established equipment that has proven performance in other industries for many years, thus mitigating process risks. The modular design offers a flexibility that makes it easy to adjust for project and site specific boundary conditions like i.e. different energy production scenarios. The high level of detail means short engineering phase and fast implementation.
The high quality and sustainability of the produced cellulosic ethanol has already been proven in several applications. In collaboration with Mercedes-Benz and Haltermann, Clariant has successfully tested a fuel of the future, sunliquid®20 –a premium-grade E20 blend that contains 20% cellulosic ethanol, in a fleet test with Mercedes-Benz series vehicles. In Brazil at Clariant’s Suzano plant, ethanol-fueled Scania trucks are used to transport chemical products. The Ecotrucks, as they are known, started using second-generation ethanol produced from sugarcane bagasse using Clariant’s sunliquid® technology.