Cellulosic was all the buzz at the Reuters Global Agriculture and Biofuels Summit this week and prognosticators are now saying it is much closer to reality than ever before.
One speaker at the summit said that biomass ethanol is just 2-3 years away. “We should see the first commercial-scale plants coming on line in late-2009, early-2010,” said Richard Hamilton, President and CEO of California-based Ceres.
Ceres develops high biomass yielding crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus for future use as dedicated energy crops.
A US Department of Energy official speaking at the summit said that researchers are on track to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with conventional gasoline supplies by 2012.
“We are on our way to meeting that,” said Katharine Fredriksen, principal deputy assistant secretary at the Energy Department’s Office of Policy and International Affairs.
And the head of the nation’s largest ethanol producer POET told the summit they are focusing on making next-generation ethanol by 2011 from corn-cob waste.
“Our facilities are surrounded by a significant supply of cellulose … we’ve chosen to focus on corn cobs,” said POET CEO Jeff Broin.