Navigation Links
Generating ethanol from lignocellulose possible, but large cost reductions still needed
Date:11/8/2011

The production of ethanol from lignocellulose-rich materials such as wood residues, waste paper, used cardboard and straw cannot yet be achieved at the same efficiency and cost as from corn starch. A cost comparison has concluded that using lignocellulose materials is unlikely to be competitive with starch until 2020 at the earliest. The study, published in the international journal Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining, did identify many opportunities for reducing costs and improving income within the lignocellulose-to-ethanol process, and provides insight into the priority areas that must be addressed in coming years.

Ethanol can be blended with gasoline to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. The last 15 years has seen a massive growth of so-called first-generation processes that use enzymes and bacteria to turn the starch and sugars in corn and sugarcane into ethanol. But corn and sugarcane are also important components of the human food web, so using them for ethanol production has the potential to affect the price and availability of these basic commodities.

On the other hand, lignocellulose materials are often hard to dispose of, but they are rich in sugars that can be fermented into ethanol following appropriate processing. "Not only is cellulose the most abundant polymer on Earth, it cannot be digested by humans, so using it for fuel production does not compete directly with food supplies," says the study's lead author Jamie Stephen, who works in the Department of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The race is on to commercialize this second generation ethanol.

Stephen's work focuses on the fact that the cost of building large scale ethanol-producing facilities will likely be higher for second generation ethanol compared to first generation technologies. One reason is that sources of lignocellulose may require significant and costly pre-treatment. "Researchers and companies are going to have to concentrate on reducing the cost of pretreatment and increasing the output of the digester in order to reduce the costs of the lignocellulose-to-ethanol process," says Stephen.

Another reason costs are higher is that lignocellulose is made of multiple kinds of sugar, while corn starch consists of pure glucose. Corn starch can be reduced to glucose with low-cost amylase enzymes, while pre-treated lignocellulose requires a cocktail of cellulase enzymes. Providing these enzymes is one of the major costs of the whole process, but you currently need 12 times more cellulase than amylase protein to generate the same amount of ethanol from woody biomass. "Despite much effort and progress over the last few years, the cost of using cellulase enzymes is still significantly higher than for amylase-based processes, and will need to be reduced substantially before lignocellulose starts to become competitive with corn and sugarcane as a feedstock," says Stephen.

Finally, while the input to sugarcane- and corn starch-based systems is fairly constant, the feedstocks that go into lignocellulose systems are much more variable. Different species of tree produce wood that has different properties, and waste paper and agricultural wastes will have many different types of material in them. To get maximum efficiency, each type of biomass needs to be processed under different conditions, which introduces another challenge for anyone wanting to make ethanol from these materials.

Overall Stephen believes we have a considerable way to go before second-generation ethanol production will be ready for commercialisation. "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," says Stephen.


'/>"/>
Contact: Michelle Martella
physicalsciencenews@wiley.com
781-388-8577
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Regenerating eyes using cells from hair: Stem Cells awards research into stem cell deficiency
2. Legume ipmPIPE: A new option for generating, summarizing and disseminating real-time pest data
3. BCIU Applauds Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, Sees Efforts Generating Goodwill, Partnerships and Jobs
4. Novel strategy for generating induced pluripotent stem cells for clinical use is safe and efficient
5. Just like old times: Generating RNA molecules in water
6. Master regulator found for regenerating nerve fibers in live animals
7. NIH funds work at WPI on regenerating heart tissue and preventing urinary tract infections
8. Fat-regenerating stem cells found in mice
9. Research offers means to detoxify mycotoxin-contaminated grain intended for ethanol, animal feed
10. A new catalyst for ethanol made from biomass
11. Switch from corn to grass would raise ethanol output, cut emissions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( ... online age and identity verification solutions, announced today they ... Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... and International Trade Center. Identity impacts ... and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... May 5, 2017 RAM Group ... a new breakthrough in biometric authentication based on ... mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors ... material created by Ram Group and its partners. This ... transportation, supply chains and security. Ram Group is ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ALBANY, New York , April 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... highly competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by ... in the market is however held by five major ... and Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% ... majority of the leading companies in the global military ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work ... which eye do you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one ... with its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. ... Cancer Research, London (ICR) and University ... SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma ... MUK nine . The University of Leeds ... partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and ... rebranding initiative announced today. The bold new look is part of a transformation ... moves into a significant growth period. , It will also expand its service offering ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced today ... the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... home security market and how smart safety and security products impact the ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: ... "The residential security market has experienced ...
Breaking Biology Technology: