dc auto showHere's a question. Take that one-ton bale of biomass (specifically, corn cobs and stalks) in the picture above, turn it into cellulosic ethanol and mix it into E85 (so, dilute it with a bit of gasoline). Now, pour it into the flex-fuel Ford Fusion parked before it and start driving. Once you leave the DC Auto Show, where we came across all of this, how far will you be able to go?

This is the question that Novozymes is asking auto show attendees, and we're reproduced the company's possible answers in a poll below. You can't win a prize by playing this way, but you can take a stab anyway. Novozymes declares two assumptions. First, that the flex-fuel Fusion will get 20 mpg the entire way. Second, that a ton of corn stover can make 100 gallons of ethanol. As you can see in the poll, 2,000 miles is not an option. Novozymes will announce a winner, chosen randomly from all the right answers, February 7.

What else did Novozymes share with people in DC? Amy Ehlers, Novozymes's government relations manager, said:

It will take a strategic desicion in this country to move to a flex-fuel transportation infrastructure to provide market choice for consumers and energy security to our nation. We need to keep moving forward with continued support from the federal government and key strategic technology partnerships like the one we have with Poet.

Poet is the largest producer of ethanol in the world, with 27 plants in seven states. The company makes about 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol and 9 billion pounds of animal feed a year. It also has a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant.

Novozymes has gotten government assistance in the past. Then-President Bush visited the company in North Carolina in 2007 and Novozymes received $2.2 million in DOE grants 2002 and $12.3 million in 2008. Last year, Novozymes brought two ethanol-powered vehicles – a Chevrolet HHR and a flex-fuel Ford F-150 to the DC Auto Show with the theme of government waste. The twist was that the vehicles were refueled with ethanol made from government office waste paper and waste cardboard. Get it?

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Easier Than Finding a Needle in a Haystack: Novozymes and POET Demonstrate How to Find Fuel in Agricultural Waste at Washington Auto Show

The road to commercialization of cellulosic biofuels may be bumpy and less traveled, but it's actually an easier road than many might think. This week at the DC Auto Show, Novozymes and POET will celebrate being one mile closer to their destination -- the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels. With recent breakthroughs in enzyme technology and advancements in corn stover/cob collection processes, this waste to fuel solution is closer than ever to commercial reality.

The Novozymes Zymobile, an E85 Ford Fusion FFV is displayed next to a one-ton bale of corn stover - the feedstock for its cellulosic biofuel at the 2011 Washington Auto Show. (Photo: Business Wire)
In a regulatory impact analysis, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that, "corn stover was chosen as the most economical agricultural feedstock to be used to produce ethanol in order to meet the 16 [billion gallon] EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) cellulosic biofuel requirement."

"A large part of our success to date with corn cobs and stover is the improved efficiency of the enzymes used in the fuel production process and the reduced costs of the enzyme production process," says Novozymes President Adam Monroe. "In just two years, we have been able to reduce our enzyme cost by 80 percent, while at the same time increase performance 1.8 times. Together with partners like POET, we have developed a renewable fuel that is better for our country, better for our environment and cost competitive to gasoline."

Yet despite continued progress, barriers still remain before cellulosic biofuels can compete openly in the market today. The primary barriers now are financing, market access and consumer choice for the fuel.

We applaud the programs at the Department of Energy and United States Department of Agriculture that have announced incentives such as grants and loan guarantees to biofuels projects over the past year. They send a clear signal of support for the industry and are necessary tools for keeping renewable fuels like cellulosic biofuels on the road toward full-scale commercialization. Meanwhile, the US must not lose focus on what is truly important: American jobs, domestic energy security and environmental preservation.

About Novozymes

Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries, we create tomorrow's industrial biosolutions, improving our customers' business and the use of our planet's resources. With over 700 products used in 130 countries, Novozymes' bioinnovations improve industrial performance and safeguard the world's resources by offering superior and sustainable solutions for tomorrow's ever-changing marketplace. Read more at www.novozymes.com.

About POET

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 23-year-old company has a production capacity of more than 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol and 9 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed annually from 27 production facilities nationwide. POET also operates a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs and light stover as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit www.poet.com.

*Editor's notes:

Novozymes North America President Adam Monroe and POET Director of Public Relations Nathan Schock will speak about developments in the road to commercialization for cellulosic ethanol on Thursday, Jan. 27th, at 2:20PM at the Novozymes booth.

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