Süd-Chemie AG (Germany), a leading manufacturer of catalysts and adsorbents, and The Linde Group (Germany), a leading global company in the sector of gases and engineering, have launched the production of climate-friendly biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass in Munich. The two companies recently started a pilot plant at Süd-Chemie's research centre in Munich-Obersendling which will be using cereal straw to manufacture up to two tons of bioethanol fuel annually. The process developed by Süd-Chemie and Linde allows biofuels, such as ethanol, to be extracted from plant matter containing cellulose, for instance wheat straw or maize straw, with the aid of enzymes created using biotechnological methods. The partners in this currently unique alliance offer excellent mutual benefits.
Süd-Chemie's expertise lies in the sectors of biocatalysis and bioprocess engineering, and Linde's subsidiary Linde-KCA-Dresden, offers extensive experience in implementing chemical and biotechnological processes on a commercial scale. Compared with the first-generation biofuels already in use today, such as biodiesel made from rapeseed oil, these second-generation biofuels according to experts offer a significant improvement in terms of climate and energy balances, including higher potential for reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, second-generation biofuels do not compete with the cultivation of either food or animal feed. The pilot plant now opened represents a scaled-down version of the entire integrated manufacturing process required to convert straw into bioethanol. Construction of a larger demonstration plant producing several thousand tons of bioethanol each year is due to commence in the near future.