Fading: Cellulosic ethanol hopes

More taxpayer-supported biofoolishness is coming up short.

Climatewire reports,

Even with subsidies, ethanol made from crop waste or wood chips won’t be competitive with fuel made from corn until 2020 at the earliest, which is at the tail end of the most optimistic industry predictions, a new study said this week.

So-called second-generation ethanol faces significant extra costs due to the need for pre-treatment of the sturdy, cellulose-rich raw materials, as well as the more complex enzymes employed, says the study by the Department of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia.

“Production requires significant cost reductions and at least the same level of financial support that was given to the first-generation systems if second-generation ethanol is going to be fully competitive by 2020,” said the study’s lead author, Jamie Stephen…

POET says it now makes cellulosic ethanol for $2.35 per gallon and wants to drive that down to $2 per gallon by the time the commercial plant starts. Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, started selling an enzyme last year that it said could bring the cost of cellulosic ethanol to the $2 level.

As enzyme technology continues to improve, POET aims to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price competitive to that of the first-generation fuel between 2018 and 2020. Still, it will be a challenge to compete with regular ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil, which costs as little as 73 cents per gallon today.

4 thoughts on “Fading: Cellulosic ethanol hopes”

  1. How is it that ethanol can cost 73 cents per gallon and yet we subsidize it and worse mandate it’s use? I’d be all over a flex fuel vehicle at a buck per gallon!

  2. You get 2.4 gallons of ethanol from a bushel of corn. Corn costs over $7 a bushel because we are using over 44 percent of our corn crop to produce ethanol. You do get 17 pounds of animal feed from a bushel of corn used to make ethanol as a by-product to help reduce the corn costs. I still don’t see how you can make ethanol for less than $3 a gallon when U. S. corn is used as the feed. Ethanol gives you 2/3 the energy of gasoline, so on a gasoline equivalent, ethanol from corn has to cost $4.50 a gallon.

    James Rust

  3. Part of the reason sugar cane ethanol costs so little is that a lot of the people picking the cane are little more than slaves. The costs are incredibly low and they don’t have any environmental standards at all.

  4. Why doesn’t anybody ever check facts? The U.S. is currently exporting hundreds of millions of gallons of corn based ethanol to Brazil because it is cheaper than cane based ethanol . The 73 cent number makes no sense.

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