KESSLER Pongamia waste - a source of cellulosic bioethanol.
Let us present KESSLER's genetic variety of the Pongamia tree's tremendous benefits for the fuel and energy industry. The fundamental characteristic defines how we treat these products as waste materials in the production processes.
Another prospect for the industry is producing cellulosic ethanol from the wood waste from our trees. The global demand for fuels and energy continues to increase. Crude oil, as the primary energy raw material for fuel production, has limited resources, and the use of this raw material, due to high CO2 emissions to the atmosphere and global warming, restricts and limits this raw material in production processes. During the energy transformation process, it became necessary to develop alternative solutions, i.e., solutions increasing the use of renewable energy sources in the production processes. Another critical element of the new fuel and energy policy was solving the problem of using food (mainly vegetable oils and other agricultural raw materials) for fuel and energy production. This problem was related to the globally understood concern of hunger, mainly in African and developing countries. Production of biofuels from raw materials that can be used for food generates negative economic and social impacts, while deforestation (destroying forests which are the largest CO2 absorber) purposing to increase the cultivation of energy crops undermines the sense of biofuel production. Alternative production of bioethanol from waste biomass rich in a lignocellulosic complex will increase crop productivity by reducing the amount of land used for the cultivation of raw materials for fuel. Taking the above into account, Kessler strongly approves and supports any manufacturing process that uses waste materials to produce finished fuels. Bioethanol, next to biodiesel, is one of the primary renewable energy resources used as a component in the production process of motor gasoline. Due to the oxygen content, bioethanol shows a more favorable combustion profile in engines and consequently enables the reduction of CO2, NOx, hydrocarbons, and dust emissions to the atmosphere. Bioethanol has a higher octane number, a higher burning rate, and a higher evaporation temperature than traditional gasoline. Moreover, bioethanol is water-soluble and biodegradable, making it less toxic to the environment than other components, causing no environmental cataclysms. Cellulosic ethanol can be produced by hydrolysis and fermentation of lignocellulosic agricultural wastes such as straw, corn stover, energy grasses, or other energy crops. The end product is the same as conventional bioethanol, which is typically blended with gasoline. The raw material's type and biomass composition, i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin (lignocellulose complex), will determine the amount of cellulosic ethanol. Cellulose is the most abundant renewable chemical found on Earth. Lignocellulosic biomass contained in agricultural and forest waste is an inexhaustible and cheap source of raw material for second-generation bioethanol production. The production of such bioethanol from waste material does not compete with food production, unlike first-generation bioethanol based on agricultural raw materials ( rich in starches and carbohydrates), posing the threat of rising food prices. The process of enzymatic hydrolysis leads, as a result of the breakdown of cellulose and hemicellulose, to the formation of simple sugars (glucose and xylose), which are the substrate in the next stage - alcoholic fermentation. So the composition of the raw material and the quality stability is of the most significant importance for the process itself and the stable efficiency of this process. KESSLER conducts comprehensive research of all raw materials from our genetic variety, analyzing each of them in terms of process suitability and the possibility of producing different raw materials for various production processes of advanced biofuels. One such product of our tree is the fruit waste from the protein production process. This waste is generated in the first stage of grain preparation for pressing, which consists in removing/separating the shells from the grain of the Pongamia fruit. What is worth mentioning is that this waste is almost 50% of the total weight of our trees' fruit; therefore, we can use this raw material for large-scale production. KESSLER, together with the state of Israel (A.R.O.), is currently carrying out several additional studies on the suitability of this waste as a raw material in various other technological processes such as the production of solid biomass in the form of pellets, raw material for the BtL process, raw material for the pulp & paper industry. You will find more updates on these topics in our next posts. To assess the suitability of our waste as a raw material for the production of cellulosic bioethanol, an analysis of the composition of this waste was carried out, aimed at determining the content of components that will give us the highest ethanol efficiency in the enzymatic hydrolysis process. The lignocellulose complex in our waste (a representative sample of our product) is as follows. - cellulose content - 30% - hemicellulose content - 27% - lignin content - 21% - others - 22% KESSLER performed more lab examinations and tests for the ash and moisture content and the remaining component(others) composition that were analyzed for suitability for hydrolysis and fermentation. The new results are fantastic. Considering that the typical ash content of forest waste (bark, sticks, and other parts of the tree) is around 5%, our ash content is only 0.6%. The moisture content parameter (only 9.8%) is also very advantageous, making the material ideal for zero-emission electricity production. KESSLER Pongamia: Ash content - 0.6%, Moisture content - 9.8% The last stage of this research cycle was to find an answer to the question: what ingredients are contained in the non-lignocellulosic part of our waste? Detailed analysis showed that the main components of this part of our waste are:
- Starch - Pectins (mixture of carbohydrates) After obtaining and confirming all the results, we are confident that the waste from our genetic variety is an excellent raw material for producing cellulosic bioethanol. The total content of cellulose and hemicellulose is about 57%, and the content of extremely valuable carbohydrates for the fermentation process (starch and pectin) in the remaining part of our waste (22%) will significantly increase the yield of bioethanol produced. To summarize, we can declare that our work on the right genetics for our tree is bringing great results and further milestones for our enterprise. Throughout the research period, we compare our results with other varieties; we would humbly say that our prime genetics is unique. We would like to express our gratitude again to our partners: the Agriculture Research Organization of the state of Israel, the Volcani institute team, and the ministry of Agriculture for the most productive cooperation that fetched such great results.