BOSTON, January 17, 2008 – The Air Force has awarded a contract to Reactive Innovations, LLC to develop a reactor for processing biomass into ethanol fuel. The U.S. Air Force is interested in processing biomass to produce liquid fuels in its facilities around the world. This would help lessen the environmental impact due to expanding landfills as well as help reduce the use of petroleum oil. Processing the cellulose in this biomass into ethanol is one viable option to meet these requirements where the cellulose is first hydrolyzed into glucose that is subsequently fermented into ethanol fuel. Large scale industrial processes are aiming to accomplish these process steps, however, the high costs and complex process units make it difficult to scale the process to smaller biomass operations more suited for Air Force needs. To this end, Reactive Innovations, LLC will be developing a modular biomass hydrolysis reactor that can efficiently breakdown and convert cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars using a wide variety of biomass feedstocks. During this program, Reactive Innovations will show the merits of its hydrolysis reactor and its applicability to smaller bioethanol production for suitcase to trailer-size operations.
This biomass conversion process to produce liquid ethanol fuel can be commercialized and used in many applications including small towns, schools, and farms. The economics of converting biomass into a l iquid fuel require substantial biomass feedstocks making it preferred to locate the bioethanol production facility at large biomass sources to eliminate transportation costs. Small bioethanol production plants are needed that have low capital costs and that are modular to improve the economics for bioethanol. Reactive Innovations’ hydrolysis reactor will help meet this lower cost and modular design allowing it to be used in smaller production systems.