Wood Climbs from Supporting Role to Center Stage
by Kris Bevill (Ethanol Producer Magazine) ….But as it turns out, trees guard their precious C5 and C6 sugars, those necessary to produce cellulosic ethanol and biochemicals, with a nearly impenetrable system of natural defenses that has yet to be overcome by our best scientists. While significant advances have been made in solving this puzzle, there are some who say it is just too complicated to be completely conquered in the near future and perhaps wood is best left to be used for its many other purposes.
In May, timberland analysis firm Forisk Consulting LLC released a comprehensive study it conducted that concluded wood-based biofuels will not be commercially viable on a wide-spread basis for at least 10 more years. The technology to produce biofuels using wood products is extremely complex, the firm found, and while a few projects could produce biofuels commercially within the next decade, others will require up to 20 more years of development before they can be successful.
The study was conducted by examining 12 conversion pathways to produce liquid biofuels using gasification, hydrolysis and fermentation or pyrolysis methods and evaluating the proposed production methods of 36 renewable diesel and cellulosic ethanol projects under development. Among the cellulosic ethanol projects evaluated for the study were those being developed by Coskata Inc., Mascoma Corp./Frontier Renewable Resources LLC, Ineos New Planet Energy LLC, ZeaChem Inc., American Process Inc., and Range Fuels Inc. READ MORE