NanoDynamics, Inc., a diversified nanotechnology and manufacturing company, today announced the signing of an exclusive license agreement with Global Technex Pty of Brisbane Australia. The agreement is part of a project that marries NanoDynamics’ new ND Fusion process intensification technology with Global Technex’ strategic plan to bring new technologies into the Australian biofuels industry. The ability to economically convert sugarcane process streams to ethanol creates a potentially sweet deal for Australia, which has an abundant sugarcane crop and a heavy reliance on imported oil. The ultimate goal of the project is to build a large-scale ethanol production facility in Queensland, Australia to provide ethanol to the Australian market.
Global TechNex Director Laurence Salmon says “We are very excited to be entering this market and our approach, based on cutting edge, green chemical processing technologies provided by our partner, NanoDynamics, will clearly demonstrate that ethanol from sugar cane can be produced with such efficiencies to make the end product highly attractive as a fuel to replace gasoline.” “This relationship is a significant milestone in NanoDynamics’ activities in renewables and alternative energy technologies” says NanoDynamics CEO Keith Blakely, “The ability to continuously produce high-quality biodiesel and ethanol-based fuels in an energy efficient and cost effective fashion provides an ideal platform to demonstrate our commitment to greener energy.” NanoDynamics Energy, a subsidiary of NanoDynamics, Inc. is already a leading innovator in solid oxide fuel cell technologies, materials, and systems.
Process intensification was developed in the1970’s as a means to reduce production plant size and capital costs in the oil industry but has more recently evolved into a pathway to ‘Green Chemistry;’ the design of chemical processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances in an energy efficient manner. The ND Fusion technology is based on a patent-pending rotating tube reactor that provides extremely high mixing, heat and mass transfer rates in thin, highly sheared films on the walls of the reactor to create chemical processes that are cleaner, smaller, safer, faster, cheaper, smarter and more efficient.
Globally, the focus on renewable fuels continues to grow and carbohydrate feedstocks are becoming increasingly more valuable alternatives to traditional hydrocarbon-based automotive fuels. Through mandate or tax incentives, countries like Brazil, the USA, India and Sweden are increasing programs to produce ethanol blended fuels. With the oil crisis in the early 1970’s, the Brazil initiated the Pró-Álcool or Programa Nacional do Álcool (National Alcohol Program) to phase out all fossil fuels in favor of ethanol for vehicles. The program successfully reduced the number of cars running on gasoline in Brazil by 10 million. How did Brazil do it so successfully? Brazil has the largest sugarcane crop in the world, literally fuelling its economy on the ethanol fermented from sugar cane process streams.
There are many pathways to the production of ethanol but sugars are readily fermented through the use of yeasts, which consume the sugar and excrete ethanol as a by product. Still, the process is not without challenges. Yeasts are living organisms that can be fickle and require just the right combination of conditions and time to produce the maximum amount of ethanol and once the yeast produces ethanol, it must be purified and separated from the yeast, water and nutrient wort in which it was produced. All this can be time consuming and capital intensive. The NDFusion technology provides for faster, higher, more efficient ethanol yields by boosting fermentation without damaging fragile yeast cells and generates higher purity ethanol with significantly lower energy and capital expenditures than traditional processing methods.
In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard recently reaffirmed government commitment to the development of an Australian biofuels industry including excise concessions for alternative fuels as well as a total of AUD$41.2 million in production grants to fuel ethanol. Given Australia’s healthy sugarcane crop, 80%+ of which is exported, and a growing dependence on imported oil, Global Technex and NDFusion are well-poised to provide solutions.