Expansions likely once US cellulosic ethanol profitable – RFA

16 February 2010 19:40  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS news)--The 28 cellulosic ethanol refineries under development in the US will likely undergo "massive" expansions once they start commercial production, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said on Tuesday.

As they stand now, the cellulosic refineries would have a combined initial capacity of 170m gal/year, the RFA said in an industry outlook distributed alongside the start of the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida.

That compares with the total existing capacity of 11.9bn gal/year at the 189 US bio-refineries in operation in January, according to RFA data.

The outlook document did not make any predictions about what capacity level the cellulosic refineries might reach, or when they might begin commercial operation.

The cellulosic process can use a wide range of vegetable matter as feedstock, whereas so-called first generation US bio-refineries are dependent on corn.

The industry hopes the cellulosic process will boost US ethanol output in coming years as mandated targets become due. The government wants 36bn gal/year of biofuels to be consumed by 2022, most of which is expected to be ethanol.

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By: Stephen Burns
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