US cellulosic ethanol target for food-versus-fuel attack - RFA

21 February 2011 19:32  [Source: ICIS news]

PHOENIX, Arizona (ICIS)--Cellulosic ethanol was susceptible to the food-versus-fuel debate, ethanol group Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said on Monday, charging that environmentalists were criticising cellulosic ethanol with an intensity reserved for corn ethanol.

“I remain convinced that refuting the food-versus-fuel canard is as important to cellulosic ethanol producers as it is to grain processors,” said RFA president Bob Dinneen during a speech at the National Ethanol Conference in Phoenix.

Cellulosic ethanol, unlike grain ethanol, is produced from non-edible crops such as wood chips and switchgrass.

“The debate really is not about food. It is about land,” Dinneen said.

The US cellulosic ethanol industry took significant steps in 2010, the RFA said, citing an unprecedented Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee for a project in Nevada that will produce ethanol from municipal solid waste.

Loan guarantees were also recently awarded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for cellulosic ethanol projects in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, the group said.

“These projects will result in more than 83m gal/year [314m litres] of cellulosic ethanol production in the very near future,” Dinneen said.

US cellulosic ethanol production remains limited, but the US plans to use the product to meet a major share of an aggressive 36bn gal/year renewable fuels target set for 2022.

The 16th National Ethanol Conference opened on Monday. The event, which is organised by the RFA,  will close on Tuesday.

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By: William Lemos
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