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  • [ October 18, 2013 ]
  • First of its kind commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant opens in Italy

Image courtesy of Beta Renewables

The world’s first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to use a fermentation/enzyme conversion process has opened its doors in Crescentino, Italy, where it will use this process to produce ethanol from crop residue and perennial grasses such as wheat straw, rice straw, and giant reed.

The $200 million facility developed by Beta Renewables and Novozymes A/S is expected to produce approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Lignin byproducts created from ethanol production will be sent to an adjoining power plant to be used to power facility operations.

Poet LLC and DuPont are working on building commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plants in the United States that will also be able to convert agricultural residue to ethanol—meaning the U.S. is not far behind. In fact, another commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida is already up and running, but uses a different process called gasification to transform raw materials into ethanol. This plant is expected to produce nearly $8 million gallons of ethanol per year. There are currently two facilities under construction in Iowa: one in Emmetsburg, with the capacity of 25 million gallons; and another in Nevada, with a 30 million gallon capacity.

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently concluded that using agricultural residue for biofuels would create worldwide job and economic growth, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and energy security by 2030. But in order to see that kind of success, government support is necessary.

CEO of Novozymes Peder Holk Nielsen, said “Policy makers now need to send clear signals to encourage the necessary investments in advanced biofuels…Stable and predictable blending mandates, incentives for the collection of agricultural residues, and investment support for the first large-scale plants will help move the world substantially in terms of reducing greenhouses gasses, stimulating economies, and providing energy security.”

Sources:

First-of-its-kind cellulosic ethanol plant opens in Italy, E&E news
Commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol refinery opens in Italy, Ethanol Producer Magazine
How A 75-Million-Gallon Plant In Italy Heralds The Rise Of A More Efficient Kind Of Biofuel, Think Progress

Related from Iowa Energy Center:

A make-or-break-year for cellulosic ethanol
Eyes on new Emmetsburg cellulosic ethanol plant
Cellulosic ethanol produced in commercial quantity for first time

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