The quest for commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol has been under way for some time now. In December, we wrote about KiOR’s first commercial-scale wood-to-gas biofuel production plant in Columbus, MO. And then in January, we highlighted DuPont’s new cellulosic biorefinery, which has a completion date of mid-2014. Despite the exciting potential of ethanol produced from renewable sources, real progress has been slow: KiOR’s first shipment of cellulosic gasoline was delivered in late June, and the DuPont refinery is still being built.
But just last week, INEOS Bio announced that they are officially producing cellulosic ethanol at a commercial scale. The first shipments are to be released this month, although they declined to say how much they have produced so far.
Where traditional ethanol uses corn or soy to produce fuel, thus competing with the food supply for land and other resources, cellulosic ethanol is produced from renewable biomass byproducts such as corn stover (the leaves and stalks of corn), wood chips, or inedible grasses. In the case of INEOS Bio, the plant is using vegetative and yard waste, as well as citrus, oak, pine, and pallet wood waste, to create fuel. Located near Vero Beach, Florida, INEOS Bio’s Indian River County BioEnergy Center, a joint venture project between INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy, is designed to produce eight million US gallons of advanced biofuels per year from renewable products. It’s also capable of exporting power to the community.
With INEOS Bio bringing commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel closer to reality, the biofuels industry has reached a significant milestone. It is our goal at Sustainable America to reduce oil usage 50% by 2035. Alternative fuels for transportation are an important part of making that goal a reality, and the commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol is a big step in the right direction.