Cellulosic ethanol may one day beat gasoline on price - CEO

19 May 2010 23:10  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--Cellulosic ethanol could one day compete with gasoline on price as technology improves and crude oil prices increase, a CEO said on Wednesday.

In the next several years, oil will reach and stay at or above $85/bbl, “and we will be on energy parity with gasoline”, said Joseph Skurla, president and CEO of DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE). He made his comments during a luncheon sponsored by the US section of the Societe de Chimie Industrielle in New York City.

“Demand is not going to change anytime soon,” Skurla said. “Energy demand will continue and every type of energy source will be important to the world - ethanol, wind, fossil fuels, all of them.”

Formed in 2008, DDCE is a 50/50 joint venture between DuPont and Danisco’s Genencor division.

The US renewable fuel standard calls for the use of 100m gal/year (379m litre/year) of cellulosic ethanol through 2010, rising to 250m gal in 2011 and 16bn gal/year by 2022.

Energy crops such as switchgrass could be used as a practical feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.

Skurla added that energy crops are more efficient to grow, with yields of 10 tons/acre as opposed to corn’s 2 tons/acre. Moreover, energy crops could be grown on ground that is less than ideal for other crops.

Demand may create a bio-based economy, Skurla said, with a rural revitalisation occurring in the US and around the world. In the US alone, “biofuels will create 800,000 jobs by 2022 - not to mention opportunities in research and development, logistics” and other fields, Skurla said.

DDCE has a $54m (€44m) pilot plant in Vonore, Tennessee with a capacity of 250,000 gal/year. By next year, the plant could use switchgrass as a feedstock for ethanol.

($1 = €0.82)

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By: Ivan Lerner
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