First U.S. commercial-scale producer of cellulosic ethanol is shipping fuel

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Poet Inc., the nation’s first commercial-scale producer of cellulosic ethanol, is shipping the fuel from its plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, and could hit full production by the end of 2016, company founder and Chief Executive Jeff Broin said Tuesday.

. . . .

Broin said scaling up commercial production of cellulosic ethanol is “moving much faster than we did in the early days of starch [corn] ethanol.” Cellulosic ethanol gets its name from cellulose, the fibrous material in plants. Sugars are extracted from cellulose with enzymes and then fermented into alcohol.

. . . .

Broin said Poet’s goal is to build cellulosic ethanol plants next to each of its existing corn-ethanol plants. For that investment to happen, he said, the U.S. government needs to support the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal mandate to blend ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the mandate, has set blending requirements below the aggressive growth envisioned in a 2007 federal law. Most gasoline sold at the pump is 10 percent ethanol. The ethanol industry wants federal blending levels that promote 15 percent and higher blends. The oil industry opposes the policy.

. . . .

Broin said one consequence is that cellulosic ethanol technology could end up benefiting other nations. The technology can work with other cellulosic raw materials, including straw, wood products and municipal solid waste, he said.

“Other countries are smart enough to see good technology that can create clean, homegrown fuels for their countries,” Broin said. “The world is awash in cellulose.”

Read full, original post: First Midwest cellulosic ethanol plant is producing tank-car loads of fuel

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