Whitefox to contribute membrane technology to Guyana pilot plant

By Erin Voegele | November 27, 2012

London-based Whitefox Technologies Ltd. recently announced that it has secured an ethanol contract with the government of Guyana. Together with its Brazilian partner, Green, Whitefox Technologies will install a demonstration plant at the Guyana Sugar Corp. Albion Sugar Factory. According to information released by the company, the turnkey unit is scheduled for delivery in early 2013.

 “We are very proud to be playing a role in the development of the ethanol industry in Guyana,” said Gillian Harrison, CEO of Whitefox Technologies. “We see the potential for countries like Guyana to use locally produced resources to produce ethanol and electricity, which we expect to have a positive impact on development and improvements in the local economy.”

According to the company’s website, its technology focuses on membrane separation. With regard to ethanol production, Whitefox Technologies’ membrane solutions enable the production of various grades of ethanol, including fuel and industrial, in a single, continuous step. Information released by the company notes that given the membrane’s tolerance to high-water contents, the distillation stage does not need to go up to the azeotrope—which is when a mixture of liquids cannot be separated by simple distillation—allowing for the process to be energy and water efficient. In addition, Whitefox Technologies specifies that its process is continuous, does not saturate the membranes, and does not require either added chemicals or a regenerative loop.

Sugarcane is one of Guyana’s main commodities, representing 40 percent of the country’s agricultural production and 20 percent of its total annual revenue. Guyana’s objective is to move towards an E10 gasoline blend, which will reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil.

Information published by the company states that the project is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank as part of its Climate Change Strategy. A document published by the bank, titled “Climate Scope 2012,” reports that while Guyana has ample resources for clean energy development, development of the industry has been hindered by a weak framework, a lack of investment and high sovereign debt costs. With regard to biofuel production, the country has no current production capacity. However, the report states that given the importance of sugar exports to Guyana’s economy, biofuels and biomass have the potential to become the nation’s flagship clean energy sectors.