2013-08-21. Turning Grass into Gas.

posted Aug 23, 2013, 9:27 AM by Alan Gould
 For GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Excerpt: The ... cellulosic biofuels ... process has been around since the early 1800s, when the chemist Henri Braconnot figured out how to strip sugars from cellulose—the basic building block of all plant life—and refine them into a crude form of ethanol. ...For almost 200 years cellulosic ethanol has had the potential to be one of the world’s greenest fuels. Unlike corn ethanol, cellulosic doesn’t rely on food crops. ...Cellulosic refineries enjoyed a brief heyday in the early 1900s—Henry Ford’s first models could run on pure ethanol—but were driven out of business by cheap petroleum. ...in early 2013, cellulosic ethanol refineries finally began producing biofuel. Texas-based KiOR, the nation’s leading independent cellulosic company, began shipping cellulosic diesel and gasoline from its refinery in Columbus, Mississippi. INEOS Bio’s Florida refinery began producing cellulosic ethanol from yard and wood waste in early summer. By 2014 the Spanish energy giant Abengoa, the chemical conglomerate DuPont, the ethanol maker Poet, and five other cellulosic refiners are expected to begin producing next-generation biofuel. ...turning wood or grass into fuel on a commercial scale is really hard to do. “Getting to scale” is industry-speak for the process of moving from a small research lab putting out fuel in 100-gallon batches to an industrial-size refinery producing 10 million to 40 million gallons. When chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers scale up, they commonly do so by orders of 10 or 100, expressed as 10x or 100x. ...Congress asked the cellulosic industry to scale up on the order of 10,000x in five years. “In a lab, you’re working with perfectly clean wood chips,” explains Renata Bura of the University of Washington’s biofuels and bioproducts laboratory. “It’s almost never that pristine in a real-world refinery. At a commercial-scale facility, you’ll have needles, bark, and branches” polluting the mix.....  http://www.onearth.org/articles/2013/08/are-cellulosic-biofuels-the-holy-grail-of-green-fuels. Bruce Barcott, OnEarth, NRDC.