US proposes sharp cut in 2012 cellulosic ethanol use

21 June 2011 22:20  [Source: ICIS news]

US cellulosic ethanol usage could fall significantly in 2012 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US cellulosic ethanol usage could fall significantly in 2012 based on a government proposal on Tuesday to cut the amount of that type of biofuel refiners would be required to blend in gasoline.

Cellulosic ethanol is identical to regular ethanol, except that the product is made from biomass that does not include edible feedstocks, such as corn.

Common feedstocks include corn cobs, switch grass and wood chips.

The mandate for US cellulosic ethanol consumption in 2012 would be cut to 3.45m-12.90m gal (13.06m-48.83m litres), from a previous 500m gal target, under a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA cited a study of "market availability" as the reason behind the reduction, indicating that the US continues to a lack cellulosic ethanol production in the scale needed to meet its targets.

The slow pace of production stems from the high cost involved in making the product, but biofuel advocates have also pointed to lack of government support as a factor hindering expansion.

Despite the cut on the cellulosic side, the EPA proposed keeping the overall US target for renewable fuels usage in 2012 steady at 15.2bn gal, an increase of 9.4% from 13.9bn gal in 2011.

For 2013, the government proposed increasing the use of biomass-based diesel by 28% from 2012 to 1.28bn gal.

The final EPA mandates for 2012 will be issued later this year after a public comment period that ends in August.

For more on ethanol visit ICIS chemical intelligence
Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemicals

By: William Lemos
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