n last week’s Energy Trends Insider (ETI) I explained Why Sugarcane Bagasse is the Most Promising Pathway for Cellulosic Ethanol.
In addition, I answered a reader’s question about Ethanol’s Role in Rising Gas Prices and whether that increases the chances of a partial waiver this year of the Renewable Fuel Standard. As we have done previously, we would like to share a story from ETI with regular readers of this column. Interested readers can find more information on the newsletter and subscribe for free at Energy Trends Insider.
Why Sugarcane Bagasse is the Most Promising Pathway for Cellulosic Ethanol
The history of cellulosic ethanol is a lot longer than most people probably realize. In 1819, French chemist Henri Braconnot discovered how to break cellulose down into component sugars by treating biomass with sulfuric acid. Once sugars are released from cellulose, the solution can be fermented to ethanol in processes that are very similar to those used to produce corn ethanol or sugar cane ethanol. Regardless of the way the sugars are released, processes that produce ethanol from cellulosic sugars are collectively categorized as cellulosic ethanol.
The Germans first commercialized cellulosic ethanol production from wood in 1898. The technology was commercialized in the U.S. in 1910, when Standard Alcohol Company built a cellulosic ethanol plant in South Carolina to convert lumber mill waste into ethanol. Standard Alcohol later built a second plant in Louisiana. Each plant was capable of producing over 5,000 gallons of ethanol per day from wood waste, and both were in production for several years before being idled for economic reasons.