New Approach to Cellulosic Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

ZeachemA California company claims to have a new way to convert biomass into ethanol.

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, ZeaChem’s technique uses a proprietary combination of biotechnology and chemistry.

Zeachem’s “secret sauce,” according to co-founder and research executive vice president Dan Verser, is both how it breaks down biomass – waste wood from poplar trees at first – as well as how it uses wood residue to produce the hydrogen it mixes with acetic acid to make ethanol.

One key: A bacteria commonly found in the gut of a termite or in pond scum helps convert the trees to fuel. “Our bug is very tough,” said Jim Imbler, Zeachem’s president and chief executive officer.

ZeaChem has reported started designing a small-scale production facility in Oregon where they hopes to start making cellulosic ethanol using the process next year.

Cellulosic, Ethanol, News