Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Ethanol Technology

Wood Chips

Wood Chips and Other Waste Can be Converted to Ethanol

Making ethanol from food doesn't save much carbon, but making ethanol from waste can save tons of carbon and potentially bring the cost of fuel down in the process. What we need are a lot of new ideas and reserach on how to squeeze the most ethanol from existing waste streams.

The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) will begin work testing a catalyst developed by Dow Chemical of Midland, MI, that may “massively boost” cellulosic ethanol output from biomass.

The process heats biomass to high temperatures and withholds oxygen so it doesn’t burn. The output product is a mix of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The gas can be converted using catalysts to make a variety of alcohols, including ethanol.

The Dow technology could more than double the output of ethanol from 60 – 80 gallons per ton of biomass to 130 gallons per ton of biomass.

Potential feedstocks include agricultural waste, municipal solid waste and sewage sludge.

More @: Technology Review

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