Cellulosic Ethanol

Cellulosic Ethanol

With costs being the primary limiting factor behind biodiesel production and usage the reliance upon corn-based ethanol for the majority of biofuels has been a major limiting factor. This is due to the fact that corn-based ethanol is, comparatively, not very environmentally friendly compared to other alternative energy sources and is in limited supply each year. Additionally the reliance upon corn-based ethanol affects the food industry as well by putting additional demand upon corn production, thus preventing many people from having access to it due to its steadily increasing costs.

Cellulosic ethanol, an ethanol product based upon fast growing grasses rather than starchy foods, has been seen as the answer to many of the problems facing the biofuel industry due to its many benefits. The most notable benefit for consumers, for instance, is the fact that cellulosic ethanol can potentially be produced in much greater supply on a regular basis than any corn-based ethanol could possibly produce. Additionally from an environmental protection standpoint fast growing grasses can absorb much more carbon dioxide each day than corn can during its growth cycle, making them even more attractive to producers and consumers alike.

The only drawback behind cellulosic ethanol use is the fact that current productions methods up till now have been unable to successfully produce cellulosic ethanol at a suitable, stable and cheap enough rate to make conversion to them over corn-based ethanol worthwhile. Two Danish development firms, however, have recently announced breakthroughs in the cellulosic ethanol field and claim to be able to produce substantial quantities of cellulosic ethanol to the point that it may be commercially viable – with prices as low as $2 a gallon.

This development could mean, potentially, that cellulosic ethanol can finally make a presence in the biofuel market and allow biofuel usage to expand substantially throughout the global markets. While it’s true that in order to complete the expansion of biofuel usage to many areas additional support from world governments will be required, however with cellulosic ethanol now making its presence in the market place (with further developments expected to drop the price per gallon even further) many industry experts believe this is only a matter of time and in the coming decades we can expect a near full conversion from traditional petroleum-based fuels as our primary source of energy. This is still, however, dependent upon many emerging trends and cannot be anticipated accurately at this time given the current level of technology.

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