US puts $385m into cellulosic ethanol efforts

The US Department of Energy is putting $385m into cellulosic ethanol and will fund six cellulosic ethanol plants across the US in an bid to drive the technology forward. The goal is to fund plants and technology to produce around 130m gallons (522m litres) of ethanol/year. The story was reported on ICIS news by my good friend Joe Kamalick.

(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)

U.S. Department of Energy  Secretary Samuel Bodman said

“These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner”

The lucky companies are



Blue Fire




The DOE is to be commended for spreading its technology bets widely with technologies ranging from wood or citrus peel gasification to more currently talked about corn stover getting backing. Big chemicals/biotech hittersDuPontt and Novozymes have are partners in theBroin project and Shell is tied up with Iogen. It will be fascinating to see which technology route works best. Which do you think is the most likely to succeed?

In any case, it Looks like I’ll have to bring my mental start date for cellulosic ethanol forward by a couple of years.

3 Responses to US puts $385m into cellulosic ethanol efforts

  1. Mark C R UK 2 March, 2007 at 8:42 pm #

    I agree with the time period being brought forward.

    In an article I referenced and commented within my blog: 16 February 2007
    “Follow-up on Ethanol Re-evaluation and Consolidation in the Industry during 2007?”

    “…This matches my expectations precisely, although my instincts tell me to expect the timescale quoted above to be shorter. These being 2-3 years rather than 5. I think this will surprise people!…”

    I think it’s too close to call on whom will be who comes out top.

    All the hitters you mention:
    DuPont – BP

    All world class outfits… Again, too close to call…



  2. Biofuelsimon 5 March, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    The most interesting races to bet on (I’m told) are ones like this with no clear favourites, and a tightly packed field. This race is a steeplechase, not a sprint across the flat. But that’s not to say the companies aren’t thoroughbred.

  3. Mark C R UK 6 March, 2007 at 12:04 pm #

    I just love your “steeplechase” analogy!

    I personally hope none of the above end up “in a ditch”…

    I’m looking forward to reading each groups’ potential innovations in this area.

    Each one is likely to further stimulate our knowledge of chemistry/engineering in new ways.


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