Ethanol Alert; Winter, 1996

Arkenol and DOE Form Partnership

Arkenol, a privately held company headquartered in Mission Viejo, California has formed a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose of this partnership is to construct a commercial-scale plant to convert cellulose material to ethanol using a proprietary concentrated acid hydrolysis technology.

Under a $670,000 cost-share agreement, Arkenol will combine its concentrated acid hydrolysis process with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory genetically engineered bacteria, Zymomonas Mobilis, to test the viability of the combined processes. The project is expected to lead to the development of several commercial biomass-to-ethanol plants.

"We already are a commercially and economically viable process," said Mark Carver, vice president of business development for Arkenol. "What we are hoping to demonstrate is that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Zymomonas Mobilis will give us an additional economic advantage."

The initial thrust of the project will be testing how effective the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's bacteria is at dealing with Arkenol's hydrolysate, or sugar water, from the biomass, said Carver.

Arkenol plans to have its first commercial biomass-to-ethanol plant operating by the first quarter of 1999, with construction beginning in six to eight months, according to Carver. "There are still negotiations going on as to the final location, but we should have those ironed out in the next couple of months," he said.