Today at Noon, a Shell service station in Ottawa, Ontario will quietly begin selling cellulosic ethanol blended into regular gasoline. The biofuel is made locally from wheat straw, and as far as we know is the first time cellulosic ethanol has been made publicly available.
The new fuel will only be available for one month, starting on June 10th, but it’s a major step forward for the production of advanced biofuels. All gasoline purchased at the Ottawa station will be a blend of 10% cellulosic ethanol and 90% gasoline (CE10).
E10 ethanol-gasoline blends are sold widely in the United States, but the ethanol component is made from corn. Advanced non-food biofuels offer dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions when compared to gasoline, up to 90%, and are the only realistic short-term direct substitute for traditional fuel.
Shell’s strategic investment partner Iogen Energy Corp. will produce the fuel at their demonstration plant, which is currently producing 40,000 liters (about 10,500 gallons) of fuel per month. The company has working to produce cellulosic ethanol there since 2004, and also develops and markets enzymes used to process natural fibers.
“I am excited we are leading the pack in cellulosic ethanol production technology and, with this event, showing what is possible in the future. While it will be some time before general customers can buy this product at local service stations, we are working with governments to make large-scale production economic.”
–Dr. Graeme Sweeney, Shell Executive Vice President Future Fuels and CO2.
“We’re proud of this world-first. Building a demo plant is one thing but you then need to go through the process of operating the new technology at scale, learning, modifying and lowering costs. With the volumes we’re producing today, we’re confident about the future.”
–Brian Foody, Chief Executive Officer of Iogen Corporation.
“This one small retail station in Ottawa is one big step forward for advanced biofuels globally. This is a great day for Canadian technology and proof that Canada’s commitment to developing low CO2 fuels is starting to pay dividends for the environment, farmers, and consumers.”
–John Baird, Canada’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister
Photo Credit: Shell / Iogen