Emerson to help bring biofuels plant into commercial production

  • March 04, 2009
  • Emerson Automation Solutions
  • News
March 4, 2009 – Second-generation biofuels company Range Fuels has formed a strategic relationship with Emerson Process Management to help bring online the first commercial cellulosic biofuels plant in the United States. Range Fuels selected Emerson as its main automation contractor for the new Soperton, Ga., plant, which will use non-edible biomass such as timber and wood waste generated by nearby forest industry operations to produce more than 100 million gallons of ethanol and methanol annually. Emerson also is the main automation contractor for Range Fuels’ existing pilot plant in Denver, which was designed to optimize the proprietary and patented thermo-chemical process that converts timber and wood feedstock into fuel. “We expect to shorten our project cycles and ramp up to production target levels safely and efficiently with Emerson’s assistance,” said Bill Schafer, senior vice president, business development, Range Fuels. “Our intent is to replicate this plant and to strategically establish additional plants near feedstock sources in the United States.”Emerson’s engineering expertise and process control and automation technologies have enabled Range Fuels to test and refine its processes at its Denver optimization plant, which successfully demonstrated to government partners and financial backers the commercial viability of its biomass-to-ethanol conversion technology. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded Range Fuels an $80 million loan guarantee, the first ever for a cellulosic ethanol plant. As the main automation contractor for the Soperton plant, Emerson is assessing risks and defining protocol, engineering, and automation standards that will allow Range Fuels to lower risks, reduce downtime, and run reliably and efficiently to meet its production goal of more than 100 million gallons of ethanol and methanol annually. Production at the Soperton plant is expected to begin in 2010.In addition to Emerson’s engineering expertise, Range Fuels is using Emerson’s PlantWeb digital automation and safety technology, which is ideally suited to Range Fuels’ Soperton facility and the emerging alternative fuels industry due to its network of digital systems and intelligent field devices. The technology is easy to use and enables end users to address special applications and maximize plant performance and safety while delivering operations and maintenance efficiency. “We are delighted to have a strategic relationship with Range Fuels, which is clearly an innovative leader in this emerging alternative fuels industry,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president, Emerson Process Management. “We’ve been honored to work with them from inception, beginning with process development in the lab and at the process plant, continuing to the commercial facility in Georgia, and certainly expanding to more plants in the future. We are committed to their success and that of the overall industry as it helps resolve the world’s declining oil supply and meets increased demand for alternative fuels.”Emerson will supply Range Fuels with its best-in-class product range and services that comprise PlantWeb digital plant architecture, including its Fisher FIELDVUE digital valve controllers and valves, Rosemount transmitters, Rosemount Analytical analyzers, Daniel flow meters, and Micro Motion Coriolis flow meters. Also supplied will be PlantWeb process control and asset optimization technologies including DeltaV digital automation systems and AMS Suite predictive maintenance software as well as its digital safety system, DeltaV SIS. Many of the field devices are available in Smart Wireless networks which are an important tool for minimizing installation costs and reducing time for project completion.The biofuels industry is an important one for Emerson given the predicted shortage of oil in the coming years. In fact, the International Energy Association World Energy Outlook 2008 projects the world oil shortage will reach 28.6 million barrels a day by 2030. About Range FuelsRange Fuels is a privately held company headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., and funded primarily by greentech venture capital companies, including Khosla Ventures, LLC, arguably the top venture firm in the United States focusing on alternative, clean (green) energy systems. Its proprietary two-step thermo-chemical process converts biomass into fuel-grade ethanol. Biomass includes all plant and plant-derived material, such as wood, switch grass, corn stover, and miscanthus grass – making it a renewable energy resource that produces no net greenhouse gases. About Emerson Process ManagementEmerson Process Management, an Emerson business, is a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing, and distribution in the chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment, mining and metals, food and beverage, life sciences, and other industries. The company combines superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management, and maintenance services. Its brands include PlantWeb, DeltaV, Fisher, Micro Motion, Rosemount, Daniel, Ovation, and AMS Suite.About EmersonEmerson (NYSE: EMR), based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to create innovative solutions for customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2008 were $24.8 billion. Learn More

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