Skip to comments.Same Moonshine, Different Name: Welcome To The Age Of Cellulosic Ethanol
Posted on 09/15/2013 7:29:32 AM PDT by IbJensen
A Dutch company and an American ethanol producer hope to put a new kind of fuel in your gas tank whether it makes economic sense or not. Thanks, Washington.
Amid the cornfields of Emmetsburg, Iowa sits an ethanol plant that takes in 20 million bushels of corn and churns out about 55 million gallons of corn ethanol a year. Rising next to it is a revolutionary new facility. It will make ethanol as well, but instead of using juicy kernels of corn, its feedstock will be 285,000 tons a year of corncobs, leaves and husks. Although its 25 million gallons a year of projected output will be chemically identical to ethanol made in the old plant next door, the product will have a different name: cellulosic ethanol.
(Chesapeake's Strange Plan To Make 'Green' Gasoline Christopher HelmanChristopher Helman Forbes Staff)
The cellulosic plant is a joint venture between Poet, the nations second-biggest ethanol producer (1.6 billion gallons a year), and Royal DSM , a Dutch company that makes agrichemicals. In the new plant highly engineered enzymes will break down the tough cellulose, exposing the sugars inside to the yeast bacteria that will ferment it into ethanol. If it works as well as Poets test facility, the plantcalled Libertywill bring to reality a dream long deferred.
Cynics like Patrick Kelly, policy advisor at the American Petroleum Institute, mouthpiece for the oil industry, smirk that after years of empty promises cellulosic ethanol remains a phantom fuel. That even if all the plants work as hoped, their output wont amount to even a drop in the bucket of the 130 billion gallons we pump into our cars every year.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
The economics might have made more sense if you had converted your operation to make moonshine instead of car fuel.
The Moonshine for The “New” “Millenium”........could easily be sold in the “ghetto” as Yellow Drank”.
The posture of the entrepreneur in the photograph....TELLING
Hmmmm, and how much is this gonna cost me?
So, instead of cellulose (corn cobs) entering the environment through a landfill and decomposing slowly and naturally we will cook the ethanol out of them for immediate conversion to CO2.
Very telling. Not to mention it’s a bad photoshop since he’s not really leaning against the sign.
The blending mandate was an exercise in technology forcing. The first generation of commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants is now coming on line. The question is, what price can they deliver?
I know, I know, the world has changed since the RFS was enacted. Fracking has changed the equation on domestic production and St. Barack has ushered in an open-ended era of peace, harmony, and good feelings around the world. Barack's Arab friends would never do us wrong, and if they were tempted, he would smile at them and make it right. But sooner or later ....
I'm still a Jim Woolsey hawk on diversifying away from conventional oil. A couple of well place missles or the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the price of oil will zoom past $200 a barrel and never look back. And even if we avoid Armageddon, I'm tired of bankrolling the jihad. As Woolsey used to point out (any perhaps still does), the war on terror is the first war in which we've financed both sides.
Yes, we are now hitting the blend wall. The problem is the blend wall, not ethanol. We should have converted the entire automobile fleet to flex-fuel standards years ago. The price for that used to be reckoned at $100 a car, and the true cost would probably be zero once the supply chain mainstreamed new materials; it's just a matter of using slightly different plastic and rubber fittings and hoses, to make them ethanol compatible. The incremental cost is a special order price for a niche product. Once it became standardized, the new gasket probably isn't any more expensive than the old one.
There are many possibilities. Some analysts think we may be headed for a bifurcated fuel market, with a lot of E-85 in the heartland and the coasts still relying on imported oil and a 10-15% blend. Others think we will head to E-30 or E-40 to take advantage of the octane boost from higher ethanol blends (at which point, the mileage penalty disappears; all you gotta do is tune your engine properly for a different fuel). My own hunch is that third generation feedstocks, perhaps algae or a microbial pathway, will eventually (but when?) render both corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol obsolete. Meanwhile, by all means let's keep fracking and drilling as well, and put the bad guys out of business ASAP.
Ethanol now provides something north of 10% of the nation's automotive fuel supply. Corn yields are steadily increasing, both here and around the world. (We will probably double average yield in the next generation.) Alternative feedstocks are in play. This is not the time to retreat.
Well, the sign extends about a foot past the post on each side. So, he could be leaning against that corner. The wind is blowing the tops of the weeds, and rippling the water, as his suit is blowing open. Shadowing is agreeable with the background.
As far as the topic.....more subsidized agribusiness....don’t get me started.
Id gusess the phptp was a montage ..the sign and the man...shot in two locations.
the shadows on his suit ARE significantly darker than those on the sign.
I have a lot less rosy picture on the viability of biofuels. What happens when all the arable land is all farmed up and depleted from forcing huge corn yields constantly? Growing algae in the amounts required to replace a significant percentage of our current petrofuel use with biofuels would likely require a literal metric butt-load of phosphorous that we don’t have, too.
I'll be the judge o' that!
Shove your flex fuel and alcohol up your backside, it’s crappy fuel!!
We hav enough oil to never import a single gallon for at least the next 500 years!
Hmmmm, and how much is this gonna cost me?
Sorry, rockrr, but if you need to ask, you can't afford it.
I hope and pray the next election will put this place out of business. If God had intended cars to run on corn, he would have given them legs and horns that go Mooooo.
I’ve heard of using the cellulosic residue to feed the energy stream, but I didn’t think the ethanol yields from cellulose were high enough to justify an entire plant using it as the feedstock.
ONCE AGAIN I SAY, burning food for food is stupid.
Corn cobs and stalks are plowed under each fall, adding nutrients to the soil.
Plants are bred to produce a very strong stalk and cob, which, following harvest, suddenly becomes very subject to quick decomposition. That strong, then suddenly very weak plant, combination has always been a tricky balancing act, and has made huge advances in recent years with the ability to genetically alter the plants.
Here's a story I always love telling, as it is a snapshot of what has happened during the last 50 years, and a glimpse into the future.
I was a member of the local Future Farmers of America during the late 60's.
One of our projects was to plant test plots of corn to compare various hybrids etc.
With my best efforts, my best plot got 90 bushes per acre.
Many years later, a friend bought the land, and using the typical farming techniques of today, he gets 200 bushels per acre from that same plot of ground.
That kind of yield increase has been repeated from coast to coast, and now corn growers are even passing the 300 bushes per acre mark.
Within a decade, 300 will become common, as the farmers reach for bragging rights to be the first to produce 400 bushels, more than 4 times what I was able to do back in the 60's.
There are many grasses that grow well in the dry zone.
Eventually, someone will develop the right enzyme to ferment kudzu.
I actually worked with bacteria that converts cellulose to glucose about 30-years ago. I imagine the same type of conversion is used here. Once you have the glucose, the yeasts can do their usual job. Oil prices back then did not make this process economically viable. I am sure the genes can be tweaked to make this process work better now. Obviously, this process takes the pressure off of using food stocks to produce EtOH.
Ethanol bad, Butanol good.
My Shelby GT500, lawn tractor, chain saws, wood chipper and weed eater will never, ever be forced to consume ethanol.
Don’t forget we have a government that’s completely out of it’s cotton picking mind!
People are paid with the money we’re mugged for that just sit around trying to think of something stupid to do.
'Conventional oil' bad.
Internal combustion engine fueled by refined oil bad.
Perhaps refining cucumbers or cabbages might be better.
What, pray tell, might the mighty Sphinx see in our future and don't tell me plugging in your car to a wall socket is the answer.
If only cars could run on bullsh-t!
What % of the corn crop is sold on the cob?
But have you noticed, the increase in yields is also associat6ed with a lowering of oil and protein content. There are no free lunches.
"The mighty Sphinx." I like it.
The mighty Sphinx thinks China is getting wheels, India is getting wheels, and pretty much everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world has figured out they don't have to remain poor. Meanwhile, the world's marginal oil supply is located in mostly nasty, politically unstable places. Conventional oil will continue to get more expensive. Fracking buys us some useful time, but we still have a long term problem. Another three years and Obama will pass from the scene; with luck, we will then have a government that wants to grow the economy, not sabotage growth for the sake of a leveling agenda. When that happens, growth will resume, and so will the rise in energy costs.
If I had to bet today on transportation fuels a generation from now, I'd bet on third generation feedstocks for biofuels. Algae, or a microbial soup. This will not require prime farmland or potable water, it could be scaled up as needed, and the production potential is enormous. I haven't checked in recently, but the algae researchers a few years ago were talking in terms of a production potential of 10,000 gallons an acre per year. That is a game changer.
This is already being done on a pilot and demonstration scale. It's too expensive now to compete with oil on a level playing field. But conventional oil will continue to become steadily more expensive, and biofuels feedstocks and processes will continue to improve. The cost curves will cross.
Still on cars: Electrics are further out, but I would not be surprised if the engineers solve that problem as well. We need much better battery storage capacity to extend range, and we need a baseline generating capacity to feed the batteries. This would probably be nuclear, which we should be doing anyhow.
I have no animus against the oil industry, and I think oil has a long future as a blending agent with ethanol. But in the very long run, petroleum is probably too valuable as a chemical feedstock to be burning for fuel.
For field, or dent corn, which is used for non-human use, feedstock, ethanol, plastics, etc. practically none.
The combines, or field harvesters, separate the kernels from the cob right in the field.
Sweet corn, the kind you buy in the store, to be candid, I don't know. Overall however, sweet corn is only a small fraction of total corn production.
I’m still working on the Kudzu/Marijuana cross.
I’ll let you know when it works.
It will either be Marijuana that runs wild or
Kudzu you can smoke...
Im no longer close enough to farming to know the protein content etc.
However, corn is now bred for specific uses, feed, ethanol, plastics, whatever, and can then be matched to it's end use.
I'm reasonably certain that protein content for corn bred for animal feed has a higher content now than even 10 years ago, thanks to genetic modification.
For example, a recent magazine had a comparison chart on which hybrids have the better production for ethanol under varying conditions, including the shorter growing seasons, which may be caused by general atmospheric cooling.
While there is no such thing as a free lunch, we are still in the position of only exploiting a fraction of our seed potential.
Think of seed production as in the computer stage where the 286 CPU is the latest and greatest. We've only scratched the yield potentials, and future production is more likely than not to exceed even our wildest imaginations today.
If they can make money through using corn cobs to make fuel then it should be done, the process after a few test sites should not require subsidies or why do it.
Very interesting process that I had played with 10 years ago. Part of me wants to apply for the job, but the issue is that I don’t see this plant being there in 10 years.
I go out west some, and there nice fields of corn in places you couldn't GROW corn a few years ago.
Fertilizers, genetics, and tillage practices have pretty much ended the worries of stripping the land.
I agree, but I don't think they can make money, it will probably have to be subsidized.
All of the stover, the stuff left after harvest, including the cobs, is normally plowed under and becomes nutrients for next years crops.
Although cobs are a small percentage of all that, their nutritional value has to be replaced somehow, with manure, or more practically, commercial fertilizer.
The cost of doing so would probably be larger than the value and cost of removing the cobs.