Boost for green fuel production

Wednesday, 20 June, 2007

The Ensus Group has announced that it has secured investment for the "world-scale green fuels' facility, which plans an annual production capacity of 400 million L.

Even before the production plant has been built - at the Wilton International site, Teesside, north-east England - the company has secured a contract to sell all bioethanol output to the Shell Group for 10 years.

Bioethanol is a plant-based fuel that can be produced from fermented crops including corn, sugar cane and wheat; the industry expects to benefit from a grain surplus in Europe.

The environmentally friendly fuel receives a tax subsidy from the UK government and fuel distributors are expected to use 5% biodiesel by 2010.

Renew Tees Valley is the company set up to promote renewable energy and recycling opportunities in the area. It said the project is a "very significant step forward in establishing our area as a key centre for green fuel technology".

The group's first production plant will use established and proven technology from Katzen. The facility will be on an integrated petrochemical site with excellent road and port access for the supply of feedstock and the transportation of the finished product, bioethanol.

Made from natural products such as wheat and sugar beet, bioethanol offers a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to oil for petrol-driven vehicles. The European standard for petrol states that up to 5% of bioethanol can be blended with petrol and sold through existing distribution channels.

Ensus says it will produce it using wheat sourced from the UK and continental Europe and plans to build a number of world-scale plants in Europe.

Biofuels are a source of renewable energy made from biomass materials. These differ from fossil fuels such as coal and oil that are not renewable and are in limited supply. The two best-known biofuels are bioethanol and biodiesel.

Bioethanol, an alcohol, is produced from biomass materials that contain starch and sugars. It is made by fermenting these organic materials to produce ethanol from their natural starch and sugar content. A main advantage of bioethanol is that it can be easily blended with petrol; a mix of 5% bioethanol and 95% petrol can be used in all cars today without the need for modifications to the engine.

The facility is expected to come on stream by early 2009 and will produce more than 400 million L a year for Shell Trading. That is enough to keep about 300,000 cars on the road for a year.

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