ICM successfully completes 1,000-hour run at pilot plant

By ICM Inc. | November 29, 2012

ICM Inc. announces that it successfully completed its 1,000-hour run of an integrated fiber campaign conducted at its pilot plant in St. Joseph, Mo. ICM has developed and validated its proprietary Generation 1.5 Integrated Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology for the production of cellulosic ethanol at existing grain ethanol plants. Through its Generation 1.5 model, ICM has proved substantial operating and capital expense cost savings over a traditional approach of cellulosic ethanol production. To ICM’s knowledge, this run is the largest-scale fermentation integration of grain fiber to cellulosic ethanol technology to date.

The 1,000 hours of continuous production is a significant achievement, as it qualifies these data for consideration of federal loan guarantee programs which can be utilized in the financing of new, advanced generation renewable energy technologies. ICM’s completion of the 1,000-hour run was achieved through the sequential completion of (24) 15,000 gallon pilot fermenters and (5) 585,000 gallon commercial scale reactors. Another critical achievement from the 1,000-hour run was to demonstrate that the dried distillers grains (DDGs) co-product of ICM’s integrated fiber cellulosic process have a significant concentration of protein-fat amounts that accompany the integrated fiber to ethanol process. Additionally, the standard DDGs market has indicated acceptance of the feed ingredient which enables diversification of the co-product and expansion into new feed markets.

From the mechanical operations and process perspectives, the 1,000-hour run performed continuously and exceptionally well as would be required in a commercial operation. Corn fiber yields greater than 100 gallons per ton were performed up to the 585,000 gallon fermentation scale with all inputs (enzymes, chemicals, organisms) utilized at an economically-feasible range. ICM believes that its success with the integrated fiber 1,000-hour run is because of dedicated individuals and extensive testing of various feedstocks at the pilot scale for next generation conversion technology including: corn stover, corn fiber, wheat fiber, barley fiber, switchgrass, energy sorghum and bagasse.


Commercial target achievements and competitive advantages in ICM’s Integrated Fiber cellulosic process testing to date include:

An additional 7-10 percent increase of ethanol yield/bushel showing an approximate 3.1 gallons per bushel equivalent. Production previously achieved at laboratory scale has been replicated and validated at both pilot and commercial scales in each reactor run.

Greater than 90 percent conversion of C6 sugars and  greater than 80 percent conversion of C5 sugar—establishing a pathway to Generation 2—ability to produce clarified starch and cellulosic sugars to ethanol production and alternative chemicals.

Fermentation yields greater than 90 percent (complete integrated process from feedstock to distillation, including backset, wastewater treatment, co-product recovery).

Co-product market diversification capabilities by delivering substantially higher oil recovery rates and protein concentration.

Reduced use of the energy center (fewer post-fermentation insolubles, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced carbon emissions).

Ability to co-distill, utilize existing distillation capabilities.

The same quantity of ethanol can be produced with 10 percent less bushels, creating more efficiency per bushel. With an ethanol market capacity of 14 BGY, approximately 5 billion bushels of corn is utilized; not only can 1.4 BGY of cellulosic ethanol be produced—the same production amount could be produced with 10 percent less grain.


Over the course of the past eight weeks, ICM has demonstrated that its proprietary integrated fiber process design capably and efficiently produces fuel ethanol from cellulosic material as a bolt-on technology to a Generation 1 plant. It also reinforced the significance of incentives to exist for GHG reduction per gallon/ethanol, a more efficient use of Generation 1 feedstocks and enable a progression to Generation 2 production capabilities. EPA’s denial of the waiver requests it received from governors of nine states on November 16 strongly affirms the critical importance of the next generations of advanced biofuels in meeting the Renewable Fuels Standards production requirements. Recent studies released by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the U.S. DOE’s most updated iteration of its “Billion Ton Study” both demonstrate that the U.S. has plenty of available biomass feedstocks (54 billion gallons of biofuels capacity) to satisfy a substantial part of its energy needs.

“We are grateful for the tremendous efforts that our ICM employees performed to make the 1,000-hour run a remarkable success. We could not have achieved this major milestone without the collaboration of various personnel functions including outstanding efforts made by our research associates, scientists, pilot plant personnel, product development, construction management, engineering, automation, supply chain, accounting and many others,” said ICM Principal Scientist Jeremy Javers.  

“We also extend thanks to personnel of the U.S. DOE, Biomass Program who have provided us with sound guidance and support since obtaining the U.S. DOE award (DE-EE0002875) for this project. We are thrilled with the results achieved in our first 1,000-hour run. Our Integrated Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology is designed as a bolt-on product which can be added to existing corn/milo (sorghum) ethanol plants. This successful run validates ICM’s ability to continually add value to the feedstock already being processed in existing U.S. ethanol plants,” said ICM CEO Dave Vander Griend.