CelloFuel Portable Biomass Refinery

CelloFuel modules cost-effectively produce ethanol from sweet sorghum while at the same time ensiling sweet sorghum so it can be fed to livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) year-round. CelloFuel modules use patented and patent-pending vacuum infusion technology to produce ethanol by infusing the CelloFuel reagent into sweet sorghum stalks under vacuum and then fermenting the stalks in an anaerobic environment. The ethanol is then extracted by crushing the stalks and distilling the juice, and the sweet sorghum bagasse is fed to livestock after most ethanol is removed. The sweet sorghum has sufficient ethanol remaining after crushing to improve the appetite and weight gain of livestock (similar to feeding beer to Kobe/Wagyu cattle).

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Reduces the operating cost of extracting sugars

About 35% of the conventional cost of extracting sugar from sweet sorghum is the cost of crushing the stalks. The CelloFuel method is a much less expensive way to get the sugar from the stalks while simultaneously fermenting these sugars to ethanol. The CelloFuel reagent reduces the energy needed to crush the stalks.

Reduces the capital cost of fermenting sugars

The initial CelloFuel vacuum infusion vessel is a 150 liter (40 gallon) PVC pipe, 0.25 m (10 inch) diameter, 3 m (10 ft) long, with resealable caps fitted at each end.

The sweet sorghum stalks are cracked and then put into the CelloFuel vessel. The vessel is then filled with water containing the CelloFuel reagent, and this reagent is infused under vacuum into the sweet sorghum stalks.

Vacuum is applied for about 15 minutes, and then the CelloFuel reagent is infused for about 15 minutes.

Project Status (May 20, 2016)

Fermented more than 90% of sugar in sugar beet in 22 hours with vacuum infusion.

Fermented more than 90% of sugar in sugarcane in 24 hours with vacuum infusion.

Fermented more than 90% of sugar in sweet sorghum in 20 hours with vacuum infusion.

Released Press Release about new technologies.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted US Patent 9,194,012 Methods and systems for producing sugars from carbohydrate-rich substrates.

Canadian Patent Office issued notice of allowance for Canadian Patent Application CA 2884907.

Submitted Patent Prosecution Highway application to EU, Russian and Chinese patent offices.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued notice of allowance for US Patent Application 14/924,462 Methods and systems for producing fermentation products from carbohydrate-rich substrates.

Submitted U.S. Patent App. No. 14/940,390.

Submitted U.S. Patent App. No. 14/966,650 and International Patent App. No. PCT/US15/65416 Methods for Fermenting Carbohydrate-rich crops.

Submitted patent application to Brazilian, Indian and Argentinian patent offices.

Made first presentation of our vacuum infusion technology at Graintek 2015 in Moscow.

Presented at BIOMASS: Fuel & Power, April 6-7 in Moscow.

Presented at World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, April 17-20 in San Diego, CA.

Constructed a CelloFuel Vacuum Infusion Vessel from PVC pipe.

Beginning design of sweet sorghum stalk cracking device (modified leaf stripper).

Technical meeting with Beijing Sangliang Technology Development Center in Beijing July 7-8, 2016 (Chinese version)

Sr. Business Developer Latin America, Daniel Cobelo, resident full-time in Argentina

Distribution of Sugar-rich Crops

Distribution of Sugar-Rich Crops (click here for bigger image)

Converts sugar-rich biomass to ethanol near the harvest site

CelloFuel modules cost-effectively convert sugar-rich biomass to ethanol near the harvest site. Our initial focus is on sweet sorghum. Crops are harvested as usual, but can be kept on the farm for conversion to ethanol and used year-round for animal feed.

Lengthens the time for processing a crop

Most sugar-rich biomass needs to be processed quickly after harvest to prevent spoilage, but this results in equipment not being used year-round. The CelloFuel modules immediately infuse the CelloFuel reagent into sugar-rich biomass, and the resulting fermentation allows the sweet sorghum stalks to be stored without degradation for up to a year. This allows efficient year-round production of ethanol and year-round use to feed livestock.

Reduces transportation costs of biomass

One of the major costs of producing ethanol from biomass is the cost of transporting the biomass to the biorefinery. Biomass has low bulk density and is costly to transport. Conversion to ethanol on the farm is an efficient way to reduce transportation costs.

Reduces spoilage of biomass

Sugar-rich biomass begins to spoil immediately after harvest because microorganisms are attracted to sugar and because the biomass breathes (respires). Because the CelloFuel modules quickly convert sugar-rich biomass to ethanol-rich biomass, problems of spoilage are reduced.

Feeding sweet sorghum bagasse to livestock

Sweet sorghum bagasse is commonly used as livestock feed in many parts of the world, especially northern China and western India. Sweet sorghum grows in saline (salty) soils where most other crops can't grow, and survives with less rainfall than other crops because of its deep root system.

Feeding sweet sorghum grain to pigs and chickens

The nutritional value of sweet sorghum grain is comparable to maize (corn) when fed to pigs and chickens, and the fat from sorghum-fed pigs is whiter than that from maize-fed pigs. Low-tannin varieties of sweet sorghum are needed for palatability of the grain.

Improves quality of milk in dairy cows

Many studies show that milk quality is improved by feeding dairy cows a diet enriched in ethanol and acetic acid. More milk is also produced. Feed enriched by ethanol and acetic acid also improves the quality meat produced from cattle, sheep and goats.

Advanced Technologies

CelloFuel modules use patented technologies protected by US Patent Number 9,194,012 and patent-pending technologies in U.S. Patent App. No. 14/940,390 titled "Methods for Fermenting Carbohydrate-rich Crops".

Multiple feedstocks

CelloFuel modules can produce ethanol from most sugar-rich biomass, including sweet sorghum, sugarcane and sugar beets.

Transportable modules

CelloFuel modules can be transported close to harvest sites where sugar-rich biomass is collected and processed. Everything necessary for 1 hectare of crop harvested at 1 ton/hr can be transported in a small truck, and consists of two 3 m long, 0.25 m diameter PVC pipes for vacuum infusion, vacuum pumps and mixers.

Power requirements

The only power required is 12 VDC power for the vacuum pump and mixer for the CelloFuel reagent, both of which can be powered by a 12 VDC battery which is kept charged by a solar panel. This allows operation of CelloFuel modules in remote locations without utility power or diesel generators.

Water requirements

CelloFuel modules require little or no water, given that water can be recovered from the sugar-rich biomass. The initial CelloFuel reagent preparation needs 30 C warm water, and this warm water is also produced with solar heating.

Other requirments

CelloFuel modules are loaded with biomass at the harvest site, with cane cracking to improve access to the interior of the stalks and shredding of sugar beets to improve access. A modified leaf stripper can simultaneously strip leaves from sweet sorghum and slightly crush the stalks to crask them open for improved infusion. After fermentation and subsequent crushing to remove the ethanol, the remainder is used as feed for livestock.