"U.S. Backs Project to Produce Fuel From Corn Waste"

"WASHINGTON — The Energy Department plans to provide a $105 million loan guarantee for the expansion of an ethanol factory in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that intends to make motor fuel from corncobs, leaves and husks.

Experts say that the new factory, being built by POET, a major producer of ethanol derived from corn kernels, could be the first commercial-scale plant to make ethanol from a nonfood, or cellulosic, plant source. However, POET would first have to overcome technical hurdles in scaling up its production from the current pilot project, which processes one ton of plant matter per day, to a plant capable of processing 700 tons of biomass a day. High volume is necessary to make cellulosic ethanol competitive with the corn-based version.

Commercial production of ethanol from waste products like husks is the holy grail of the ethanol industry, and other companies have stumbled in their quest to achieve that goal."

Matthew L. Wald reports for the New York Times July 6, 2011.

Thursday, July 7, 2011