Michigan state in big cellulosic ethanol drive

The Michigan Messenger has a story about converting 375,000 chords of timber into 40m gal ethanol for biofuel. I think that this may be the start of a concerted campaign by environmental groups to stop or modify the plan. I don’t think that Mascoma will help itself if it fails to make someone available to directly answer the concerns raised in the article.

According to a report on Michigan Timber Harvest Trends, 375,000 chords is about of the amount of timber harvested from the land owned bythe State of Michigan. ( of the See Graph on page 39 of the report). The Mascoma company is involved in the process, according to the Messenger. Mascoma has technology for digesting cellulose. A special meeting of the Michigan State Finance and Claims Committee and the State Administrative Board on 2 December last year approved a $20m grant over five years for Mascoma to estabilish a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Kinross, MI.

A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet (The Economist World Measurement Guide ISBN 0 85058 045 5) 375,000 chords= 48m cubic feet. The EWMG tells me that 48m cubic feet is equivalent to 360m gal (US). Mascoma process apparently reduces this to 40m gal. So the yeild looks quite low. Are the numbers right? I guess that there are opportunities to do something with waste streams, like sell them. Perhaps Someone from Mascoma could add a little here. The company’s website is a little thin in this respect. (Though it looks very nice)

Michigan has 19.3 million acres of forest covering more than half its lands. Private land owners hold more than 12 million acres, the State of Michigan holds approximately 4 million acres and the federal government just under 3 million acres.

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