Leaf Energy announces preliminary results of pilot-scale trial

By Erin Voegele | February 06, 2014

Australia-based Leaf Energy Ltd. recently announced it has received a preliminary report from Andritz AG outlining the results of a pilot-scale trial of Leaf Energy’s Glycell Process, a glycerol pretreatment process, at the Andritz pilot plant in Springfield, Ohio. The trial, which wrapped up in late November, focused on bagasse feedstock.

According to information published by Leaf Energy, the trial achieved production rates of up to 4.4 tons per day on a continuous basis. The preliminary report addresses component testing and enzymatic saccharification of the material produced during the trials.. “The compositional analyses demonstrated high yields consistent with previously observed data from laboratory and batch pilot trials, confirming that Leaf’s Glycell Process can be run in a continuous production mode using industrially available equipment,” said the company in a statement.

Leaf Energy specified that the saccharification studies used commercially-available enzyme mixtures produced by Novozymes and DuPont. The results indicated that the Glycell process can produce cellulose that is readily available to be hydrolyzed by enzymes quicker than traditional processes, such as steam explosion.

Information published by Leaf Energy also addresses the resulting cellulose quality. The company indicated that alpha cellulose content for batch processing of bagasse yield 81 percent and continuous process yield 78 percent.

According to Leaf Energy, additional trials are also underway at the Andritz facility, including those on the bagasse platform and on eucalyptus globulus and spruce. In addition, the company indicated that it is performing separate work on palm oil waste biomass.

Leaf Energy is also pursuing other means to improve its glycerol pretreatment process. In late 2013, the company signed an agreement with Antinogen Ltd. to collaborate on certain bacterial strains from the Actinomycetes family that are relevant to its technology. Under the agreement, Leaf Energy will spend up to $100,000 progressing the world already undertaken by Actinogen.

Leaf Energy said it expects the Actinomycetes strains to add value to its glycerol pretreatment process in two ways. First, the bacterial strains grown on glycerol as a feedstock. Second, they have been shown to produce enzymes that may be beneficial in the process or generate valuable products.