The dream of commerciall-scale cellulosic ethanol production became a reality in 2014, ushering in a new era of advanced low carbon biofuels and silencing critics who claimed "phantom fuels" would never materialize.
The potential of cellulosic ethanol is enormous. Sandia National Laboratory says that the U.S. could produce 75 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol by 2030, more than half of today's U.S. gasoline demand. Dozens of companies are rapidly creating new technologies that will turn America’s waste products — garbage, wood chips, agricultural residue, corn stover, grasses, algae and more — into renewable fuel and other bio-based products.
What is Advanced and Cellulosic Ethanol?
Cellulose refers to the material comprising the cell walls of any green plant and is the most common organic compound found on earth. Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol produced by turning the sugars in cellulose into alcohol fuel. Advanced ethanol, by comparison, is sourced from non-cellulosic feedstocks including sugars and starches other than corn starch. All sources of ethanol will be required to provide the nation with the kind of energy choices we need.
Next Generation is Here Today
In September 2014, POET-DSM held a grand opening for Project Liberty, a 20 million gallon per year facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The plant will use 285,000 tons of baled corn residue annually from within a 45-mile radius. Less than a week later, Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa, unveiled its "Adding Cellulosic Ethanol" technology, a "bolt-on" process that converts corn kernel fiber into 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. In October 2014, Abengoa raised the curtain on its state-of-the-art biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas. The facility will generate 25 million gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol, as well as 21 megawatts of electricity. The plant uses 1,000 tons per day of crop residues, providing $17 million per year of extra income for local farmers. As 2015 began, DuPont was putting the final touches on its 30 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa. The biorefinery, which will initially use crop residue as its feedstock, is expected to begin production in the first quarter.
For more information on tax policies that would accelerate the commercialization of new advanced and cellulosic ethanol technologies, click HERE.
Advanced Ethanol Council
The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) was formed in 2011 in collaboration with the RFA and has quickly emerged as the leading voice for advanced and cellulosic ethanol. The Council focuses on market development and advancing and defending key policies to expand the industry. Click HERE to learn more about the AEC.
Last updated March 2015