Cellulose Poised to Unseat Corn as Ethanol King

John Davis

Corn-based ethanol, right now, is the king of the alternative energy world, but experts say ethanol made from cellulose is the next big thing on the horizon.

This story on CNN.com says while lawmakers in Washington, DC are debating a far-reaching energy bill with lots in it pertaining to renewable fuels, they want more of those biofuels to come from sources other than corn:

In Congress, where the 2007 energy bill is sparking heated debate over cutting tax breaks for oil companies and other provisions, legislative priorities actually call for a more ambitious program to develop ethanol from other sources over the next 15 years than from corn. Corn supplies could never keep up with American’s insatiable thirst for gasoline, so other plant materials will be needed to fill the void.

Senate lawmakers recently approved a Renewable Fuels Standard calling for the production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, with more than half of that coming from plants other than corn – so called cellulosic ethanol. That marks a six-fold jump from what’s being produced now and nearly a five-fold increase from the 7.5 billion gallon production sought by 2012.

Some experts say it takes only one-third of the energy to produce a gallon of cellulosic ethanol as compared to its corn-based cousin.

The switch to cellulosic ethanol will be welcome news to livestock producers who are smarting over the high corn prices pushed by the higher demand for corn to make ethanol.

Ethanol, News