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Published on March 7th, 2008 | by Clayton

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First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Goes Online, Makes Fuel From Wood Waste

Wood Pile

The first commercial cellulosic ethanol facility to convert waste wood materials into a renewable fuel went online last month near Upton, Wyoming. After 6 years of development, KL Process Design Group, in conjunction with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, has produced a proprietary enzymatic method to break down wood and waste materials, such as cardboard and paper:

KL’s cellulosic ethanol plant is converting waste wood into a renewable fuel. “It is now possible to economically convert discarded wood into a clean burning, sustainable alternate motor fuel” said Randy Kramer, president of KL Process Design Group, a design firm that has been working in corn ethanol. “We’re proud of what this small company has accomplished, and believe that our design will be a cornerstone from which we can build our country’s renewable fuel infrastructure providing a better source of motor fuel, starting today.”

The press release makes no mention of production volumes or plans for expansion (I’m currently contacting KL about this), but the company could be the first to capitalize on the massive potential of cellulosic ethanol, namely, making fuel from waste products (see earlier post).

KL projects that its cellulosic technology, coupled with new applied design concepts, will allow the plants to build to match the amount and type of feed stock available near large cities, further lessening the fuel’s carbon foot print. KL’s Advanced Biofuels plants will also produce excess electricity and/or steam heat that can provide additional power sources for local municipalities or complimenting biofuel plants and manufacturing facilities.

Government officials are already worried about meeting the 2015 cellulosic-ethanol targets required by the new Renewable Fuels Standard (adding up to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels). The US Energy Information Administration Chief suggested that quotas would have to be adjusted, unless “breakthroughs in commercialization of cellulosic ethanol come faster, within a year or two…”.

Could this be the first of many?

Related Posts:

GM Announces Biofuel Partnership: Cheap, Green Ethanol?

Study: Your Car Can Run On 20% Ethanol

University Funding Pulled For Anti-Biofuel Research

Sources:

SW Farm Press (Feb. 7, 08): Cellulosic ethanol a reality: First American plant in production

Hoosier Ag (Mar. 4, 08): EIA Projects Cellulosic Ethanol Shortfall

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About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.



  • Pingback: Cardboard Is Fuel Of The Future? : Ecoscraps

  • http://www.ecolibris.net/ eyloni

    Red Herring got an overview of several other companies in the field:

    http://www.redherring.com/blogs/23874

    Seems to be heating up…

  • http://www.ecolibris.net/ eyloni

    Red Herring got an overview of several other companies in the field:

    http://www.redherring.com/blogs/23874

    Seems to be heating up…

  • Pingback: First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Goes Online, Makes Fuel From Wood Waste | Business Online

  • http://www.freesand.com/glass/ Matt

    I though wood alcohol was methanol?

  • http://www.freesand.com/glass/ Matt

    I though wood alcohol was methanol?

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  • http://Rms@sprintlink.co.za Ricardo

    Hi what plans can also produce cellulosic ethanol??

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  • C.A.N.

    ETHANOL IS NOT A GOOD FUEL! I don’t care what it’s made from, (At best this reduces the food cost form making the junk from corn.) If you insist on fermenting sugar into alchol as a fuel at least make the better fuel butyl alchol. Then there is the question of what happens when companies that are recycling their cardboard get wind of this and decide they can make higher profits by making fuel? More trees will be cut down to meet the demand for cardboard. I agree this is a step in the right direction not useing corn to make fuel, and there are ways to make paper products from better more sustainable sources, bamboo, and hemp, but until the price is brought low enough most will not use them. Yea is says waste products but how is that being assured? What says that a recycling facility that has large amounts of cardboard and paper will not sell it to the fuel makers if they are paying more for it?

  • C.A.N.

    ETHANOL IS NOT A GOOD FUEL! I don’t care what it’s made from, (At best this reduces the food cost form making the junk from corn.) If you insist on fermenting sugar into alchol as a fuel at least make the better fuel butyl alchol. Then there is the question of what happens when companies that are recycling their cardboard get wind of this and decide they can make higher profits by making fuel? More trees will be cut down to meet the demand for cardboard. I agree this is a step in the right direction not useing corn to make fuel, and there are ways to make paper products from better more sustainable sources, bamboo, and hemp, but until the price is brought low enough most will not use them. Yea is says waste products but how is that being assured? What says that a recycling facility that has large amounts of cardboard and paper will not sell it to the fuel makers if they are paying more for it?

  • Michel

    I think it might be a bit tough for them to get the sugars out of the plant material. I would have thought that instead of an ethanol plant they would have gone with a methanol plant.

  • Michel

    I think it might be a bit tough for them to get the sugars out of the plant material. I would have thought that instead of an ethanol plant they would have gone with a methanol plant.

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