05 March 2003 00:09 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--A Congressionally mandated initiative to shift 25% of US chemicals production to biomass sources by 2030 is achievable, a member of the chief federal advisory committee on biobased production said Tuesday.
Carolyn Fritz, a member of the US Biomass R&D technical advisory committee (TAC), told CNI today that the broad outlines for biobased production of power, fuels and chemical feedstocks and products is certainly achievable over the next three decades, although actual biobased production achievents could fall short of - or exceed - those targets.
The Biomass R&D TAC on which Fritz is one of 26 members representing industrial, environmental and academic interests was established by the Biomass R&D Act of 2000. It is charged with advising the US Department of Energy (DoE) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the technical focus and direction for biomass R&D being funded by the US government.
In a "Roadmap" for biomass technologies issued by the TAC late last year, the committee envisions, among other things, a 12% biobased production of targeted US chemical commodities by 2010 with 18% by 2020 and reaching 25% of chemical commodities production drawn from biomass materials by 2030.
Fritz, who is global business director for industrial biotechnology at Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical, told CNI that "those goals are visions of what is possible and they likely can be reached."
But those percentages and other target production levels for biobased chemicals manufacturing, Fritz said, "are probably wrong - its just that we can't say now whether those targets and visions are too high, or perhaps too low."
In the drive for biobased chemical feedstocks and chemical products, Fritz noted that R&D work is proceeding along three lines: production of new materials via fermentation; new products from plant oils; and, production from biocatalysts or enzymes.
"There are many companies working on these multiple approaches," Fritz said. "It is now a matter of gaining breakthroughs for the development of economically competitive products. The goal is to develop products with either equal or improved performance [compared with existing chemical processes] that are economically viable."
The US biomass R&D "Roadmap" lays out goals and likely routes to biobased chemicals production in considerable detail and is available online at: http://www.bioproducts-bioenergy.gov.
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