MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia
Leaf Energy closer to patent grant for Bio-Ethanol production process
(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Leaf Energy's (ASX: LER) patent applications for the novel pre-treatment of Cellulosic Biomass for Bio-Ethanol production are due for Patent Cooperation Treaty publication on the 6th December 2012.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty that provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states.
A PCT application, which establishes a filing date in all contracting states, must be followed up with the step of entering into national or regional phases to proceed towards grant of one or more patents.
The patent applications for the Glycerol Bio-refinery Process are part of the joint intellectual property developed under the Collaboration and Licence Agreement between Leaf Energy, Syngenta, Queensland University of Technology, and QUTBluebox.
Leaf Energy has rights to these patents in Australasia, and is also in the process of obtaining rights to the intellectual property in India, Thailand, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mauritius, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The patent application titled "Methods for Converting Lignocellulosic Material to Useful Products" (Glycerol Bio-refinery process) describes the process developed at the Queensland University of Technology.
Leaf Energy is working towards the first major cellulosic ethanol production project in Australia.
The company plans to profile the ground breaking Glycerol Bio-refinery Process in a pilot scale demonstration of cellulosic ethanol production from sugarcane bagasse, set to be the first major pilot scale production of any second generation biofuel in Australia.
The production of biofuels from waste agricultural biomass requires an integrated process that starts with the breakdown of the fibre (pre-treatment), conversion of the pre-treated fibre into sugars and the subsequent production of ethanol and co-products.
There are several pre-treatment processes that are effective at breaking down fibre, but most require high temperatures, resulting in high energy use and the production of sugar degradation compounds that inhibit the subsequent fermentation.
In many pre-treatment processes, the chemicals used are expensive.
The "Glycerol Bio-refinery Process" overcomes these problems by being effective at much lower temperatures than other benchmark pre-treatments.
At these lower temperatures, energy use is reduced and losses of sugars to degradation products are greatly reduced.
Glycerol production has increased rapidly around the world as a waste product from biodiesel production and is a low cost chemical to use in pre-treatment.
Data published in the patent specification for the Glycerol Bio-refinery Process shows that after 24 hours the process has liberated over 90% of the digestible cellulose.
These results have been successfully repeated at pilot scale, at the Mackay Renewable Bio-commodities pilot plant operated by Queensland University of Technology.
Large target market
Australians spend about 50 billion on energy each year and 35% of that amount is related to transportation costs.
Sugarcane bagasse has the potential to provide sufficient ethanol for 14% of Australia's automotive gasoline requirement and the market in Queensland and New South Wales alone is enough for 1,000 megalitres, a 700 million market.
E10 is a very popular fuel in New South Wales with 40% of the market. If there was a 10% ethanol mandate across Australia that would equate to a 2,000 megalitre, 1,400 million market.
The use of waste cellulosic feedstocks such as bagasse means that there is no competition with food requirements or land used for food production, a significant drawback with other feedstocks.
The production of ethanol from waste cellulosic biomass also has major carbon benefits, with reductions of 70% to 86% estimated for cellulosic ethanol use in comparison to standard fuels.
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