New Tech Uses Coal Steam to Produce Cellulosic Ethanol
July 21, 2010 2:17 PM
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(Source: Macalester College)
Another step closer to reducing our carbon footprint
, 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.
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.
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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