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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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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")

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