Massive biofuel plant planned for Hull

BP, Associated British Foods (ABF) and DuPont will invest around £200 million into the construction of a bio-ethanol plant together with a "high technology" demonstration plant, it was announced late last week.

BP and ABF subsidiary British Sugar would each hold 45% in the bioethanol plant, with DuPont owning the remaining 10%.

The collaboration is said to make use of each company’s respective area of expertise – from access to major fuel markets to links to feedstock supply and knowledge of biotechnology.

“We are delighted to be announcing, subject to the necessary approvals, the construction of a world scale bioethanol plant in Hull with our partners ABF and DuPont to enable petrol biocomponents to be available to meet the 2010 Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation,” said Iain Conn, chief executive officer of BP’s refining and marketing business.

“In addition we have also selected Hull as the preferred location for a planned biobutanol demonstration plant as laboratory research work on the production of this first advanced biofuel.”

The site will be built on BP’s existing chemicals site at Saltend, Hull.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of about 420 million litres from wheat feedstock. Aker Kvaerner has been appointed as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contractor.

Although initial production would be bioethanol, the partners will look at the possibility of converting it to biobutanol once the required technology is available.

To begin market development of biobutanol in the UK, BP and DuPont say that they will import small quantities sourced from an existing first generation manufacturing facility in China. The first product is expected to arrive by the end of the year for ‘advanced vehicle testing.’

John Ranieri, head of DuPont Biofuels said: “The demonstration facility, which will begin operation in early 2009, will develop the processing parameters and further advance the commercial deployment of our new technology. At the same time, the growing market demand for biofuels is significant.

We are concurrently investing in the Hull bioethanol facility with the intention to increase that investment once biobutanol process technology development is completed and conversion feasibility is validated.”

Plans for design and engineering of the new bio-ethanol site will begin immediately, with the hopes of making the plant fully operational by 2009.

Dana Gornitzki

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