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Is vinegar the secret ingredient for biofuels?
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 12 March 2008 11:56
March 12, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Is vinegar the secret ingredient for biofuels?
Posted by Michael Kanellos, C/net news
To make ethanol, you want to make vinegar first, according to ZeaChem.

The biofuel start-up, which has moved from Colorado to Silicon Valley, says it has come up with a method of making cellulosic ethanol that results in close to 40 percent more fuel per ton of wood chips than competing processes. By 2010 or so, the company hopes to be producing ethanol commercially for 80 cents a gallon at wholesale. That could translate to anywhere from $1.10 to $1.50 at the pump, depending on a host of factors.

How does it work? Most cellulosic ethanol producers convert cellulose into ethanol in somewhat of a direct manner. Wood is separated into three principle ingredients--cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The cellulose and hemicellulose are then converted into alcohol through biological fermentation (for instance, microbes and enzymes) or thermochemical engineering, which can also be combined with biological fermentation.

Mascoma, which was spun out of Dartmouth, is one of the more notable biological companies, while Range Fuels, which uses a process akin to the coal-to-liquids process, is known for thermochemical conversion. The alcohol harvested from fermentation is then concentrated through distillation.

Traditional fermentation and thermochemical processing, however, typically give off carbon dioxide as a byproduct, according to James Imbler, CEO of ZeaChem. It's why beer has bubbles.

[C/net news...]   [Comments...] 


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