Canadian cellulosic ethanol developer Iogen Corporation and its joint venture partner Royal Dutch Shell have committed further funding to keep the venture going for two more years. Iogen Energy is currently running a demonstration plant near Ottawa that is producing ethanol from wheat straw. The demonstration plant has produced over 170,000 gallons of ethanol over the past year. This ethanol is blended with gasoline and is commercially available at Shell stations in and around Ottawa.
At the RETECH 2009 conference in Las Vegas recently, I learned about an interesting crop during the "Advanced Conventional Biofuels" breakout session. Phil Madson, the president of KATZEN International, said that a plant called "Sunspuds" could provide the solution to America's ethanol production limit. Katzen said he believes that 6 billion gallons of ethanol a year is the upper limit of America's domestic corn ethanol production, and that every time we go above that limit there will be some so
As we know, breaking down long-chain cellulose molecules into individual sugar molecules is problematic on an industrial scale. In nature, of course, this happens all the time thanks to little critters like the Limnoria Quadripunctata, or four spotted gribble. The gribble or sea grub, like numerous other tiny life forms, is able to consume biomass like wood and turn it into something that can more easily be transformed into a liquid fuel.
AutoblogGreen readers know about cellulosic ethanol (if you're new to the site, click here for previous posts on the subject) What you might not know is that Congress, a big friend of big ethanol, has been stalling cellulosic ethanol production thanks to a single sentence inserted into the Energy Policy Act of 2005 at the behest of an methane-fueled ethanol entrepreneur. This offending sentence reads: "The term [cellulosic ethanol] also includes any ethanol produced in facilities where animal wa
The real potential for ethanol lies not in the corn fields of the Nebraska and Iowa but in cellulose. The amount of sugar that can be converted to alcohol that is locked up in cellulosic biomass far exceeds what is available from corn kernels. The problem is, well, that it's locked in there. The chemical bonds in cellulosic materials are much harder to break by normal methods than the bonds in the corn itself.
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:
Technically, as many of our readers know, you can make ethanol out of any plant material. But some plants (and part of plants) are easier to convert to the biofuel than others. Researchers at Purdue University think that the fast-growing poplar tree (it's harvestable in seven years, they say) could easily make good ethanol.
Cellulose ethanol is one step closer. Ethanol can now be somewhat easily made from corn fibers, thanks to a process that uses mold and was discovered at Iowa State and announced last week. The fibers, created when producer make corn syrup, are often turned into animal feed. If they The discovery could boost ethanol production by about 4 percent (160 million gallons) a year, said Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering in a press release.
He calls himself the Mad Scientist Matt, but Matt Cramer is really a skeptical yet hopeful auto fanatic who is keeping an eye out for ethanol news. Like many others, Cramer knows that growing corn to make ethanol (actually, as he mentions on his blog, growing corn to make ethanol just from the kernels of all those corn ears) is not the most productive use of farmland.
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