Biomass to Ethanol Cost Exceeds Expectations

[RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Corn stalks and grasses are difficult matter to work with when making ethanol because they don’t break down the same way corn and regular starchy grains do. Genencor International and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced that Genencor exceeded their contractual goals by achieving an estimated cellulase cost in the range of $0.10-$0.20 per gallon of ethanol in NREL’s cost model. This represents an approximate 30-fold improvement in enzyme cost in that model. NREL is expected to validate these results at pilot scale within the next quarter. The actual enzyme cost and the final cost of ethanol in a commercial process will be heavily dependent upon overcoming the remaining hurdles in the development of integrated biorefineries, according to NREL. The organizations have collaborated for the past 4-years to reduce the costs of enzymes and enable a commercially viable process of using cellulosic biomass, such as corn stalks and grasses, to make ethanol.
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