Honda announced today that it, along with Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), has developed a new way to produce cellulosic ethanol. We're all pretty aware of the benefits cellulosic ethanol would give, but it has proven difficult to make lots of it cheaply and easily. Honda and RITE now say they have figured out the "basic technology" to use cellulose and hemicellulose to make ethanol. The process, in Honda's own words, consists of four operations:
  1. Pretreatment to separate cellulose from soft-biomass
  2. Saccharification of cellulose and hemicellulose
  3. Conversion of sugar into ethanol using microorganisms
  4. Ethanol refinement
The big news is that RITE and Honda have been able to reduce fermentation inhibitors, which, when left alone, can lead to low ethanol yields. The RITE strain, a microorganism developed by, you guessed it, RITE, converts sugar to alcohol, leading to increased efficiency. While Honda is not known as a big proponent of ethanol fuels, the company says it will pursue research for mass production of ethanol. I wonder what they've got up their sleeve
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[Source: Honda]

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