Ethanol - ethyl alcohol. Demand for ethanol is growing tremendously. It is used as high octane fuel, as substitute to ethers in high quality fuels, for chemicals production and as a straight consumer product.

For centuries, ethanol was made from gain, sugar and other foods. To satisfy demand without utilizing foods, the new technologies were developed to utilize biomass and industrial products like coal, petcoke, industrial waste.

Those technologies are: Biochemical (lignocellulosic fermentation) and SynGas fermentation (hybrid process).

LeMar as an engineering company participated in 6 projects with the technology developers: NREL for the lignocellulosic fermentation and OKCU for the SynGas fermentation.

Lignocellulosic Fermentation Process:










SynGas Fermentation Process

Technologies Comparison



(lignocellulosic fermentation)

SynGas fermentation (hybrid process)

Technology State

4 commercial plants in operation. Predicted to partially replace first generation bioethanol technologies within the next decade.

Semi-commercial demonstration plants in operation.



Uniform feedstock requirement may limit feedstock potential.

Biomass, Coal, Petcoke, Industrial Waste

Large feedstock potential, including non-biomass sources such as industrial waste gas streams.

Energy Capture





Production Comparison with biomass

245 to 260 L/BDT


220 to 240 L/BDT

Process Time

Around 160 hours

Around 76 hours


Relatively more expensive

Relatively cheaper in capital Investment and Process Costs/




Plant and Where




2013 -Current

LeMar with NREL for Abengoa Industrial Plant in Hugoton, Kansas

lignocellulosic fermentation

170,000 L/D

Stover, Switchgrass, Biomass

2011- 2015

REI Semi-Industrial Plant in Toledo, Ohio

SynGas fermentation

6,750 L/D

Rice Hulls and Forest Residues

2010 -2015

Semi-Industrial Plant in St. Joseph, Missouri

lignocellulosic fermentation

2,500 L/D

Corn Fiber, Switchgrass, Energy Sorghum


Demo Plant Logos/Edeniq Visalia, California

lignocellulosic fermentation

504 L/D

Corn Stover, switchgrass, chips

2006 - 2009

Pilot Plant Amyris Emeryville, California

lignocellulosic fermentation

1,200 L/D

Sweet sorghum


Ethanol Pliot Plant in Gridley, California

SynGas fermentation

1,100 L/D

Corn Stove and Rice Straw