Cellulosic ethanol commercialization


Cellulosic ethanol commercialization

Cellulosic ethanol commercialization can contribute to a successful renewable fuels future. Companies such as Iogen, Broin, and Abengoa are all building refineries that can process biomass and turn it into ethanol, while companies such as Diversa, Novozymes, and Dyadic are producing enzymes which could enable a cellulosic ethanol future. The shift from food crop feedstocks to waste residues and native grasses offers significant opportunities for a range of players, from farmers to biotechnology firms, and from project developers to investors. [Pernick, Ron and Wilder, Clint (2007). "The Clean Tech Revolution" p. 96.]

Cellulosic ethanol production

Cellulosic ethanol is a new approach which can be produced from a diverse array of feedstocks. Instead of just taking the grain from wheat and grinding that down to get starch and gluten, then taking the starch, cellulosic ethanol production involves the use of the whole crop. This new approach will double yields and also have a smaller carbon footprint because the amount of energy-intensive fertilisers and fungicides will remain the same, for a higher output of usable material. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5353118.stm Biofuels look to the next generation] ] [http://www.eesi.org/briefings/2007/Ag%20&%20Energy/2-12-07cellulosic2/2-12-07cellulosic2notice.htm Cellulosic Ethanol: Not Just Any Liquid Fuel] ] Many regions can be a producer of this fuel. Production of cellulosic ethanol is therefore viewed as a resource that can improve national energy security in countries without significant fossil fuel reserves, the environment and greenhouse gas mitigation, and rural economic development.

Cellulosic ethanol production and commercialization by country

Canada

In Canada, Iogen Corp. is a leading developer of cellulosic ethanol process technology. Iogen has developed a proprietary process and operates a demonstration-scale plant in Ontario. The facility has been designed and engineered to process 40 tons of wheat straw per day into ethanol using enzymes made in an adjacent enzyme manufacturing facility. In 2004, Iogen began delivering its first shipments of cellulosic ethanol into the marketplace. In the near term, the company intends to commercialize its cellulose ethanol process by licensing its technology broadly through turnkey plant construction partnerships. The company is currently evaluating sites in the United States and Canada for its first commercial-scale plant. [http://www.ethanol-producer.com/article.jsp?article_id=605&q=&page=1 Countdown to Commercialization] ]

China

Cellulosic ethanol production currently exists at "pilot" and "commercial demonstration" scale, including a plant in China engineered by SunOpta Inc. and owned and operated by China Resources Alcohol Corporation that is currently producing cellulosic ethanol from corn stover (stalks and leaves) on a continuous, 24-hour per day basis. [http://www.ethanolfuelresource.com/index.php Cellulosic ethanol] ]

pain

Abengoa continues to invest heavily in the necessary technology for bringing cellulosic ethanol to market. Utilizing process and pre-treatment technology from SunOpta Inc., Abengoa is building a 5 million gallon cellulosic ethanol facility in Spain and have recently entered into a strategic research and development agreement with Dyadic International, Inc. (AMEX: DIL), to create new and better enzyme mixtures which may be used to improve both the efficiencies and cost structure of producing cellulosic ethanol.

United Kingdom

A $400 million investment programme to cover the construction of a world scale ethanol plant and a high technology demonstration plant to advance development work on the next generation of biofuels has been announced by BP, Associated British Foods (ABF) and DuPont. The bioethanol plant will be built on BP's existing chemicals site at Saltend, Hull. Due to be commissioned in late 2009, it will have an annual production capacity of some 420 million litres from wheat feedstock. [ [http://www.biofuelreview.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1062 $400m investment in UK biofuels unveiled] ]

United States

President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address delivered January 31, 2006, proposed to expand the use of cellulosic ethanol. In his State of the Union Address on January 23, 2007, President Bush announced a proposed mandate for 35 billion gallons of ethanol by 2017. It is widely accepted that the maximum production of ethanol from corn starch is 15 billion gallons per year, implying a mandated production of some 20 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol by 2017. Bush's plan includes $2 billion dollars funding for cellulosic ethanol plants, with an additional $1.6 billion announced by the United States Department of Agriculture on January 27, 2007.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting the development of ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks as an alternative to conventional petroleum transportation fuels. Programs sponsored by DOE range from research to develop better cellulosehydrolysis enzymes and ethanol-fermenting organisms, to engineering studies of potential processes, to co-funding initial ethanol from cellulosic biomass demonstration and production facilities. This research is conducted by various national laboratories,including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), as well as by universities and private industry. Engineering and construction companies and operating companies are generally conducting the engineering work. [http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/37092.pdf Feasibility Study for Co-Locating and Integrating Ethanol Production Plants from Corn Starch and Lignocellulosic Feedstocks: A Joint Study Sponsored by U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy] January 2005, p. 1.] In May 2008, Congress passed a new farm bill that will accelerate the commercialization of advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. The "Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008" provides for grants covering up to 30% of the cost of developing and building demonstration-scale biorefineries for producing "advanced biofuels," which essentially includes all fuels that are not produced from corn kernel starch. It also allows for loan guarantees of up to $250 million for building commercial-scale biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels. [ [http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h2419enr.txt.pdf Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008] ]

Environmental issues

Cellulosic ethanol and grain-based ethanol are, in fact, the same product, but many scientists believe cellulosic ethanol production has distinct environmental advantages over grain-based ethanol production. On a life-cycle basis, ethanol produced from agricultural residues or dedicated cellulosic crops has significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and a higher sustainability rating than ethanol produced from grain.

According to US Department of Energy studies conducted by the Argonne Laboratories of the University of Chicago, cellulosic ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85% over reformulated gasoline. By contrast, starch ethanol (e.g., from corn), which usually uses natural gas to provide energy for the process, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18% to 29% over gasoline.

Criticism

Critics such as Cornell University professor of ecology and agriculture David Pimentel and University of California at Berkeley engineer Tad Patzek question the likelihood of environmental, energy, or economic benefits from cellulosic ethanol technology from non-waste [http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i02/8602news3.html] [http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/commentary/hc-plcbiofuel1216.artdec16,0,7815201.story] [http://www.inform.kz/showarticle.php?lang=eng&id=159087] .

ee also

*China Resources Alcohol Corporation
*Diversa
*Second generation biofuels
*VeraSun Energy

References

External links

* [http://www.ethanolrfa.org/industry/locations/ List of U.S. Ethanol Plants]
* [http://www.biofuelreview.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1158&Itemid= US DoE puts up $33.8m to support cellulosic biofuel]
* [http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=48637 Biofuel Breakthroughs & the Cellulosic Fuels Revolution]
* [http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=50753 Two New Reports Highlight Ethanol Industry]
* [http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=51144 Xethanol Increases Cellulosic Ethanol Production Rates]
* [http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=51288 Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Open in Wyoming]
* [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/5713285.html Energy Dept to invest up to $86M in 3 state biorefineries]
* [http://ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=4269 Cellulosic Ethanol Path is Paved With Various Technologies]
* [http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/story?id=53272 Shell Increases Investment in Cellulosic Biofuels]
* [http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/story?id=53280 BP and Verenium Partner To Commercialize Cellulosic Ethanol]
* [http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/reinsider/story?id=53353 The Transition to Second Generation Ethanol]


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