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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: Stop The Green Con
By Alexvrb on 7/21/2010 11:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
Fit, I agree with a lot of your sentiment, but there's some information you're gonna want to keep in mind.
The only main drawback it has is its increased tendency to evaporate. But this can probably be controlled with some kind of additive.
Actually ethanol has a lower vapor pressure than regular gasoline. Just make sure your fuel cap doesn't leak, and you're fine. However, it also likes to bond with water. If it's a mix of gasoline and ethanol (especially the ethanol-heavy mixes like E85), this also leads to phase seperation. This makes long term storage an issue. CRC's PhaseGuard4 or similar can help, but its still an issue pure gasoline (remember those days) never had to contend with.

Also ethanol doesn't have the same volumetric energy density that gasoline does, so even with a 100% ethanol optimized engine (preferably forced induction) it still won't get quite the mileage as the same engine tuned for even 87 octane. You have to dump more ethanol in the chambers to extract the same amount of work.

Honestly, if we're going that route, butanol seems better - IF we can figure out a similar method to mass produce it without using corn. It contains roughly the same amount of energy by volume as gasoline (it's a 4 carbon alcohol). It has a very low vapor pressure, lower than either ethanol or gasoline. It can often even be dumped in a regular gasoline car and run straight, no modifications. It can mix with gasoline at least as well as ethanol, although it may suffer from the same drawbacks.
The next vehicle I buy will be a diesel. And honestly I'll look into the potential of making my own biodiesel.
Producing top-quality biodiesel is kind of a PITA. Especially if you're processing dirty waste vegetable oil. Even when you're all said and done, various factors (cold temperatures being a prime one) may drive you to mix petro diesel in with your biodiesel sometimes, or else use additives specifically designed to work with biodiesel. Regular diesel additives don't work as well with biodiesel.

RE: Stop The Green Con
By FITCamaro on 7/22/2010 9:53:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'm aware of the lower energy storage of ethanol. But if it can be produced for $1-2 a gallon would it matter that your gas mileage is a few MPG less? And it wouldn't be subject to the price increases that result from increased demand and finite pumping capacity which oil is.

Butanol would be fine too. But honestly I think biodiesel is our best bet. Drop in replacement for diesel. Great fuel economy. Tons of fun with torque. And turbo-diesels take a lot of boost. ;)

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