Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And where, pray tell, will those plants be?...

A company called Bluefire Ethanol is going to build 20 (count 'em, 20) cellulosic ethanol plants over the next six years. Seriously.

This is no speculator-come-lately to the ethanol scene. And they may just have the technological moxie (is that still a word?) to pull it off.

BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. (previous post) is established to deploy the commercially ready, patented, and proven Arkenol Technology Process for the profitable conversion of cellulosic ("Green Waste") waste materials to ethanol, a viable alternative to gasoline. BlueFire's use of the Arkenol Process Technology positions it as the only cellulose-to-ethanol company worldwide with demonstrated production of ethanol from urban trash (post-sorted MSW), rice and wheat straws, wood waste and other agricultural residues.

Since 2003, the technology has been successfully used in the IZUMI pilot plant operated by JGC, the licensee of Arkenol for Japan and SE Asia, to produce ethanol for the Japanese transportation fuel market. Over the last 10 years, the initial testing on a vast array of potential feedstock has been completed both in the U.S. and at various locations throughout the world. BlueFire has completed the arrangement of the major commitments necessary to proceed with final development of its first commercial facility which will be sited in California. [More]

My question: how can this make me a buck? Or will it compete with corn-ethanol?

Better still, if I start harvesting corn stover, what does that mean for my fertilizer requirements?

The most likely cause of those reported differences is the modification ofsoil nutrients due to addition/removal of residues. Although corn residue does contain significant amounts of macronutrients, the major contribution of agricultural residue to the soil is in terms of organic carbon (SOC) (Allmaras etal., 2000). Allmaras et al (2004) determined that over thirteen years of continuous corn, across tillage treatments, stover harvest (0% residue) decreased total SOCby 20% as compared to stover return (100% residue). [More]

I don't think we know. But if the cellulosic approach to ethanol takes off, we may find out the hard way.

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