US may get commercial cellulosic ethanol plant by 2013

22 February 2011 20:29  [Source: ICIS news]

PHOENIX (ICIS)--Enzymes producer Genencor is hopeful that a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant will start operations in the US within the next two years, a company official said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Ethanol Conference, Aaron Kelley, senior manager of business development for Genencor, said the industry “is at an interesting stage right now - there are multiple demonstration facilities around the world - some in the range of 250,000 gal/year to 1.5m gal/year … but really the next step is for the industry to start building full-scale commercial facilities - 20m to 50m gal.

“So far we haven’t had one of those break ground yet but there are some four, five companies that are right on the cusp of that,” he said. “We expect one of them to break ground probably this year or next year.”

Genencor, a subsidiary of food ingredients producer Danisco, develops and produces enzymes that can be used to convert biomass into cellulosic ethanol.

Kelley said his company, which got involved in the cellulosic ethanol field in the early 2000s, is now selling tanker truck quantities of its products to various companies.

One of those companies is DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, which now has a demonstration plant in Tennessee that uses corn cobs, corn stover and will eventually transition to switch grass as its biomass source, Kelley said.

Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol may commercialise a plant by early 2013, Kelley said, with a capacity of 25m gal/year (95 litres/year).

The cost of producing cellulosic ethanol is still a major challenge for the industry, Kelley said. Current productions costs average 50 cents/gal, compared with only 3-5 cents/gal for first-generation starch-derived ethanol, he said.

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By: Brian Ford
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