Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agriculture WILL be Part of Biofuels Future

While there have been many naysayers about the role of crops in biofuel production, recent developments do show a somewhat different pattern emerging as new generation production facilities are coming on line.

In 2007, the US Department of Agriculture estimated cellulosic ethanol production costs at $2.65/gal., compared to $1.65 for corn-based ethanol.

POET recently reported that it lowered production costs for cellulosic ethanol - including capital expenses - from $4.13 to $2.35/gal. in one year, as of November 2009, at its South Dakota pilot plant and hopes to lower it further.

Novozymes, the leading producer of enzymes in the world, recently estimated that the cost of enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production [ in the USA] has been reduced significantly in the last two years to about 50 cents/gal., reducing total production costs in the near term to about $2/gal.

Algae has great yield potential, but production cost estimates (net of capital costs) for growing and converting algae to fuel are significantly higher, ranging from $9 to $35/gal. depending on the production technology, the report notes. "Developing the capacity to use multiple feedstocks and to produce bio-based fuels that are equivalent to fossil fuels that can be used in current vehicles without limit and distributed seamlessly in the existing transportation sector may become the least-risky business model to pursue," the report concludes.

Read the full report at

Some new plants are producing biodiesel from waste fats, rather than new farm based oils or similar eg palm oils.

Work continues in a range of countries, with biodiesel small scale plants making some inroads in developing countries.

Australia still seems to be locked into ethanol from sugarcane and grains..........yet the new cellulosic ethanol option would seem to be of increasing importance.

Will we see Australian grassy weeds - with lots of biomass for example gamba grass - be seen as valuable for cellulosic ethanol production. Many sure do produce a lot of biomass!!

There is also a good article here:

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