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  (Source: Macalester College)

  (Source: CSA)
Another step closer to reducing our carbon footprint

Inbicon, a developer of biomass refineries in Kalundborg, Denmark, has turned wheat straw into cellulosic ethanol and is calling it "The New Ethanol." To mass produce this ethanol, the company also announced its plan to open its first "Inbicon Biomass Refinery."

Ethanol is a fuel made from feedstock mixed with fossil fuels, which supply the heat and electricity to make it a fuel. But with the use of wheat straw, like Inbicon is using, fossil fuels are no longer needed. Waste dry solids like the lignin found in wheat straw, which is part of the cell walls of plants, provides both electricity and heat. The lignin is more potent than the cellulosic fuel itself with an energy density of 6.67 kilowatt-hours per kilogram.

While the cellulosic ethanol is fossil fuel-free, the plant it will be produced in is another story. Inbicon plans to power the Kalundborg cellulosic ethanol refinery with waste steam from Denmark's largest power station in Asnaes. Also, in an effort to carbon-neutralize the facility's exhaust, lignin will be "fed" into the coal plant. Blending lignin as fuel and waste steam to make carbon neutral feedstock fuel results in the production of both electricity and fuel, which makes the plant that much more useful. In addition, this method will cut carbon emissions from the Asnaes plant.  

The plant may not be a zero-emission facility, but it is a step in the right direction and does in fact reduce coal power plants' carbon footprint. According to Inbicon, the total energy efficiency of the Kalundborg refinery could increase by approximately 71 percent if they utilize the Asnaes' waste steam.

"We're producing not only The New Ethanol to replace gasoline, but also a clean lignin biofuel to replace coal," said Niels Henriksen, CEO of Inbicon. "But our renewable energy process is as important as our renewable energy products. The Inbicon Biomass Refinery can demonstrate dramatically improved efficiencies when integrated with a coal-fired power station, grain-ethanol plant or any CHP (combined heat and power) operation. Symbiotic energy exchange helps our customers build sustainable, carbon-neutral businesses."

Other power companies around the world are catching on to Inbicon's ideas as well. Three U.S. power generating companies are looking to integrate Inbicon's refineries with coal plants where these plants will individually produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. 

The Kalundborg refinery is expected to make 1.4 million gallons of The New Ethanol per year, which makes it the largest cellulosic ethanol producer in the world. 

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Ethanol is not Green
By Denigrate on 7/21/2010 2:46:23 PM , Rating: -1
Never mind the fact that it's considerably less efficient and produces more pollutants when burned compared to gasoline. The politico's decided ethanol was the way to go because they had their pockets lined with green.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By XZerg on 7/21/2010 2:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't the big push towards Ethanol due to cutting back on more harmful pollutants like NOX and Sulphur dioxide? Sure it sucks in terms of efficiency but at the same time had little to non of these pollutants...

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Solandri on 7/21/2010 4:18:23 PM , Rating: 2
No, the big push towards (corn-based) ethanol was because the U.S. has an annual corn crop surplus. The USDA doesn't want a food shortage so they subsidize food crops to insure that there's always an oversupply. That way if one year there's a flood, or bad weather, or pestilence which wipes out part of the crop, we should have sufficient overcapacity to keep people from going hungry (and food prices from climbing through the roof since food doesn't follow normal supply-demand curves - the demand for food cannot drop below a certain amount since people need it to live, so a shortage can cause prices to rise tremendously).

So anyway, every year the U.S. has an oversupply of food, mostly corn. It sells some of it overseas, donates a lot of it to poorer nations, but still has a lot left which rots in granaries. Someone was thinking of things we could do with all that excess corn, and the idea of converting it into alcohol to help fuel our cars came up.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By HostileEffect on 7/21/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Spuke on 7/21/2010 5:23:02 PM , Rating: 1
If there is a food shortage then people need to pocket their money and stay out of the store for a while until prices come back down.
You need to explain this further because it makes no sense to me.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By drycrust3 on 7/21/2010 6:09:35 PM , Rating: 3
"until prices come back down"

= supply and demand.
Shortage = supply < demand => price goes up.
Price > person can afford => not buy or borrow or steal or find alternative.
not buy = "stay out of store"
borrow = get someone else to pay the high price and pay them back later + interest = Price + extra cost => expenditure > income => bankruptcy = no credit = "stay out of store for a while"
steal = get someone else to pay with the intention of not paying them back => jail = "stay out of store for a while"
find alternative = use a more economical product => reduction in short term expenditure => increased savings (= "pocket their money") + reduced demand for corn syrup (= "until price come back down")

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Stoanhart on 7/21/2010 3:16:09 PM , Rating: 5
Ethanol made from food stocks in first generation refineries is not green. Ethanol made from agricultural waste, coal plant emissions, and waste heat IS green. Think before you speak.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By bpurkapi on 7/21/2010 3:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed! Now if instead of using valuable space to grow food they should gmo the crap out of this wheat and use hydroponics and whatever industrial process possible and mass produce.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By jdietz on 7/21/2010 4:12:44 PM , Rating: 2
If you do that it will outcompete natural wheat eventually. Not worth the risk.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Harinezumi on 7/21/2010 5:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Why would that be an issue? Even if the fuel wheat did have an evolutionary advantage (which it doesn't necessarily have, since it's modified for fuel efficiency, not survivability in the wild), our food doesn't come from wheat growing in the wild. It comes from seeds planted and cultivated by farmers on farms.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Danger D on 7/21/2010 4:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
Corn ethanol is certainly better than gasoline at least. That crap about "it takes more energy to make it than you get from it" is BS.

But yeah, you're right that the ethanol from waste and different plants is a heck of a lot better. It's pretty awesome what these guys are doing.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By sleepeeg3 on 7/21/2010 5:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
It's not green. This required burning coal to produce. No steam = no ethanol. Agricultural waste products still require an energy source. Ethanol as a fuel source is a dead end.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Harinezumi on 7/21/2010 5:27:07 PM , Rating: 4
It increases the efficiency of the current system, allowing us to get more power for the same or lower cost in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. That sounds like a greener alternative to the current system. The perfect is an enemy of the good.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By Mogounus on 7/22/2010 1:03:21 PM , Rating: 3
Then hook it up to a nuclear plant and you get the same result. No dirty coal needed. Ultimately that coal plant is not getting shut down any time soon so might as well take advantage of it.

RE: Ethanol is not Green
By ClownPuncher on 7/21/2010 3:29:29 PM , Rating: 3
You're referring to corn based ethanol, which isn't really the focus of the article.

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