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Yet another cellulosic ethanol project launched recently, this time in Alpena, MI with Governor Jennifer Granholm on hand for the ribbon cutting. The facility will be run by American Process Incorporated (API) and will produce ethanol from waste materials produced by an adjacent hardwood plant that is run by Decorative Panels International.

Jonny Cocker in the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd – Click above for high-res image gallery

Earlier this year, we saw the addition of a fourth fuel option to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) when it was announced that Dyson Racing would be running bio-butanol in its Lola-Mazda coupe. This past weekend at Mid-Ohio, the Dyson car managed to score its first victory in the sixth race of the season in a nail-biter over the Honda-powered Highcroft ARX-01c.

This weekend's round of the American Le Mans Series at Miller Motorsports park in Utah will see the four Ferrari F430 GTs of Extreme Speed Motorsports and Risi Racing switch from running on an E10 ethanol/gasoline blend to using cellulosic E85. With this change, 10 of the 13 cars running in GT2 will be using the second-generation biofuel. The Corvette Racing team was the first to use E85 in early 2008 and since then the Flying Lizard Porsches and Rahal Letterman BMW M3s have also made the switch

Back in the early days of mass-produced biofuels, corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel were all the rage. But criticism about food vs. fuel and scalability abounded and, by 2008, cellulosic ethanol became known as a so-called second-generation-biofuel and, maybe, the answer to our oil-addicted prayers. Blame Congress, blame the economy, heck, blame T. Boone Pickens if you want to, but the fact of the matter is that in the two years since cellulosic ethanol's big appearance, large-scale pro

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.

Scientists in Germany have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment the sugars pentose (C5) and hexose (C6) from biomass feedstock to create ethanol and butanol. Translation: cellulosic ethanol may be one step closer to being more than the green automotive buzzword of 2008 or, worse, one of the biggest losers of 2009.

Fernando Alonso winning the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix – Click above for high-res image gallery

BP could become the first major energy company to start commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol in 2010 if all goes according to plan. BP has been partnering with Verenium Corporation to commercialize the latter company's process for breaking down cellulose into sugars.

Back in February, Mascoma opened its first pilot plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol. According to General Motors, which invested in Mascoma and its unique method for producing the alcohol, Mascoma's consolidated bioprocessing process has proven successful in a laboratory environment.

Codexis and Shell are expanding their collaboration on developing non-food based biofuels. Codexis develops what the company calls biocatalysts, the enzymes used to break down cellulose into simple sugar molecules. Codexis and Shell have had a cooperative agreement since 2007 and the expansion will see Iogen Energy participating as well. Iogen is already operating a cellulosic ethanol pilot plant near Ottawa, Canada. The hope is that the work of Codexis will be able to improve the efficiency of

Mascoma Corporation's first pilot plant in Rome, New York has now begun to produce cellulosic ethanol. Mascoma is one of two cellulosic ethanol companies that got equity investments from General Motors in early 2008, the other being Coskata. The Rome plant has an annual capacity of 200,000 gallons of ethanol produced from non-food biomass. Mascoma recieved grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) to help pay

Click the GT1 Corvette C6R for a high res gallery from the 2008 Detroit Sports Car Challenge

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.

Verenium Corporation has been awarded a $7 million grant from the state of Florida and it will use the money to build its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The money comes through the state's Farm to Fuel initiative, something sure to enrage ethanol opponents. The plant, to be constructed beginning later this year in Highlands County, Florida, is expected to start generating fuel in 2011.

The company formerly known as Xethanol Corp, is now known as Global Energy Holdings Group. As a renamed and reorganized company, it has dropped its focus on cellulosic ethanol in the face of falling ethanol prices. Instead, the company will take a more wide-ranging approach that includes tapping into landfills to harvest the methane contained within. The methane can be filtered and either used to produce electricity or blended with other natural gas sources. In addition the company will work on

During a conference call this afternoon, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm announced that the U.S. DOE will invest $26 million dollars in the state's first cellulosic ethanol production plant, being built by Mascoma in the Upper Peninsula. Granholm, speaking with a sore voice thanks to a cold, said that this is the first time that Michigan has gotten a DOE grant in partnership with the private sector.

Last month, the Wal-Mart Foundation gave $369,000 to the Arkansas Biosciences Institute for cellulosic ethanol research, specifically biomass-to-ethanol work. For comparison, Wal-Mart earned $351,139,000,000 last year.

Canadian cellulosic ethanol producer Iogen has shipped the first 26,000 gallons of an order for Royal Dutch Shell. Iogen recently announced a deal with Shell that would see them cooperate on commercializing cellulosic ethanol production. Iogen has a demonstration plant near the Canadian capitol and produced the biofuel from wheat straw feedstock. Iogen uses a "steam explosion" pre-treatment process that increases the surface area of the raw materials making the enzymes used to break down the cel