Global Bioenergies produces isobutene from waste biomass

By Global Bioenergies | March 04, 2015

Global Bioenergies recently announced it has produced second generation isobutene, in a push to diversify accessible feedstock towards cheaper resources.

As a first step in its pioneering journey to manufacture biosourced isobutene, Global Bioenergies has been using first generation feedstock, such as wheat-derived glucose, to set-up and optimize its bioisobutene process. However, the process was designed to be versatile in terms of feedstock. With the right technical adaptations, it would indeed be well suited to the usage of nonedible resources—widely defined as second generation—such as wheat straw, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse or even wood chips.

Various companies are presently debottlenecking the conversion of second generation materials into fermentable sugars. These technologies have now matured to commercial scale, with five plants having started operations in the last 24 months. This industry ultimately has the potential to provide fermentation processes with low-cost sugars derived from abundant resources.

Global Bioenergies has recently established collaborations with nine companies from three continents developing the most promising technologies to convert various resources (straw, bagasse, wood…) into fermentable sugars. Preliminary tests have resulted in successful second generation isobutene production at the laboratory scale, with process performances similar to the ones observed using wheat-derived glucose.

Frédéric Pâques, chief operating officer at Global Bioenergies, comments, “We have now demonstrated experimentally that our isobutene production process is compatible with a range of second generation resources. Using impurity-containing sugar solutions is usually difficult in classical fermentation processes that lead to liquid compounds, because the accumulation of such impurities in the culture broth makes purifying the product more complex. Our process, which is based on the production of a gaseous product, alleviates these issues and will allow us to use the cheapest types of feedstock.”

Thomas Buhl, head of business development at Global Bioenergies, concludes, “Accessing second generation feedstocks strengthens the stunning perspective of our isobutene process to being massively used in the mid-term for the manufacturing of transportation fuels such as gasoline and jet fuel.