Saturday, October 13, 2007

R-Squared Energy Blog: Ethanol from Biomass: A Sustainable Option?

Helge: Found Robert Rapier's blog this morning and have been reading it. He is very concerned that we are stumbling into the future unprepared for the formidable energy challenges ahead. More information to be found on his blog.

Let me introduce...

Robert Rapier

About Me

The mission of R-Squared is to discuss a cornerstone of our society: Energy. I am very concerned that we are stumbling into the future unprepared for the formidable energy challenges ahead.

My career has been devoted to energy issues. I have worked on cellulosic ethanol, butanol production, oil refining, natural gas production, and gas-to-liquids (GTL).

I was born in Oklahoma, received my M.S. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and recently left Montana for an assignment in Scotland.


R-Squared Energy Blog: Ethanol from Biomass: A Sustainable Option?: "Ethanol from Biomass: A Sustainable Option? The Promise of Cellulosic Ethanol I have mentioned a couple of times the research I was involved in during graduate school.

I have provided a couple of links (under 'Links') that describe this research in detail. Briefly, we were trying to turn biomass (switchgrass, corn stover, wheat straw, and municipal solid waste) into ethanol and various organic acids and ketones.

Biomass consists of many organic components, but it is primarily the cellulose component that gets turned into ethanol, hence the term cellulosic ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol has two major advantages, and one major disadvantage over ethanol from grain. The first major advantage is that large fossil fuel inputs in the form of fertilizer are not required to produce the biomass.

Therefore, cellulosic ethanol has a much better energy return on energy invested (EROI) than grain ethanol.

The second advantage is that the feed stock will be cheap, or even free (in the case of municipal solid waste, you can earn money by just accepting the waste).

The disadvantage, however, is the reason cellulosic ethanol has yet to make a major impact. The enzymes required to free the fermentable sugars from the cellulose are very expensive.

Historically, these enzymes have added as much as $5.00 a gallon to the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol.

However, substantial R&D efforts by a number of companies have brought the costs of these enzymes down to around $0.30 per gallon of ethanol."

The agricultural, biotech,
biorefinery developer
and financial communities
gather for the leading
industry building event

Helge: Robert's blog is great.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Robert, your stuff is GREAT! I am linking your page!

March 27, 2006 1:44 AM
Robert Rapier said...

Thanks for the compliment, Andrew. It means a lot. I had put off starting a blog for a long time, because I thought that there were so many out there, nobody would ever read it. I am glad to know some people are reading it.

Helge: Please, continue with the great work. I will read your blog in the future. I'm working with a global market research concerning international biotechnology microbiology process improvement needs. We've a talented group that is ready to deliver new solutions to improve energy efficiency and yield and yet provide cleaner waste waters from e.g. forestry industries. We try to figure out how read the global market is for a bio-based economy. The technology has been around for ages. New ideas and developments can improve existing processes. But we also need a new mindset. We've to look at the whole value chain. There is a need for a global community discussing the pro's and con's.

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