Technology & Process Behind Cellulosic Ethanol Production


Qteros, a start-up from UMass Amherst is on the forefront of the cellulosic ethanol industry. Their mission is to develop efficient and cost effective ways to make ethanol from waste products, and they have already broken ground on their demonstration scale facility. Qteros success comes, not only from their Q microbe (see Qteros website for detailed explanation as to how this process works), but also from their growth plan that allowed them to scale up production at progressively higher levels, while accurately predicting their costs.

The Technology Behind Cellulosic Ethanol:Qteros’ primary focus when it comes to cellulosic ethanol production is on the Q Microbe, a super-bug microorganism that consumes plant and tree waste and converts these waste products into clean transportation fuel relatively simply. Traditional approaches to cellulosic biomass require intensive pretreatments using enzymes that break down the biomass into simple sugars. These enzymes and pretreatment are the largest cost contributor to cellulosic ethanol production. The Q Microbe, however, breaks down a wide variety of plant materials including corn residues, cane bagasse, woody biomass and cellulose waste, and produces ethanol from its own enzymes. This process reduces overall process time, saves money in pretreatment and eliminates the need to produce ethanol from essential food resources.

How SPEC Helped Qteros Scale Up Production:
  • Designed scale up from laboratory bench scale to pilot process
  • Created equipment ordering process parallel to laboratory development/design
  • Continuously revised floor plans to meet projected requirements for Qteros new program and facility
  • Helped vet potential buildings to evaluate what would be the best fit for their unique requirements


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