IndianOil and LanzaTech have signed a MoU to work together in LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology in order to produce fuel grade ethanol. LanzaTech has recently expanded its energy resources to produce 2,3-Butanediol that is used in polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels. “This would be an opportunity for IOCL to evaluate and value our technology in a refinery setting”, said LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren. She also added that IOCL and India are committed to carbon fuels and have an alternative energy future.
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Range Fuels is closing down its Georgia Plant, while it attempts to raise more money and address technical issues. The plant is currently producing its first batch of ethanol and has already produced methanol from waste wood in August. The firm has received more than $300 million from fundings.
Mascoma Corporation is a U.S. biofuel company that produces cellulosic made from wood and switchgrass. It announced last week that it has the needed manpower and finance to start an oil refinery to convert wood to ethanol. Oil refiner Valero Energy will invest up to $50 million in equity needed for the project, which will start later this year.
The plant expects to use locally harvested pulpwood, which is used extensively for making paper, and turn it into ethanol at a rate of 40 million gallons/yr. Ethanol is about to be used in its refining. Up to 10 percent of the fuel from gas pumps includes ethanol, now made from corn.
This plant is a promising comeback to the cellulosic ethanol industry. All the other cellulosic ethanol companies had promised to be operating their commercial plants by now, but they are still working on their technical and financial issues. Mascoma has been running a pilot plant in Rome, and has been waiting to secure funds for the bio refinery. They have a technology that uses genetically modified micro-organisms to convert the cellulose present in plants by breaking them down. This method is very much streamlined to reduce the cost of production significantly.
The fact that ethanol is made from agriculture and forestry residue, and doesn’t compete with corn in the food Vs fuel debate makes it considerably more environmentally sound, though corn is easier and less expensive to process into ethanol in comparison to cellulosic ethanol. However, cellulosic ethanol contributes little to the greenhouse effect and has a five times better net energy balance than corn-based ethanol. When used as a fuel, cellulosic ethanol releases less sulfur, carbon monoxide, particulates, and greenhouse gases. Cellulosic ethanol should earn producers carbon reduction credits, higher than those given to producers who grow corn for ethanol, which is about 3 to 20 cents per gallon