Researchers suggest wood as source for ethanol production

Wood could one day join corn as a major source of ethanol, with the production process feeding off a by-product of paper mills. Researchers from the State University of New York estimate that bio-refineries built in already existing paper mills could produce some 2.4 billion gallons of ethanol a year from wood — roughly 80 percent of the country’s projected demand this year. The sugar xylan from trees, when captured and fermented, can be made into ethanol and blended with gasoline; currently, xylan at mills is dissolved and left unused. Bio-refineries could also extract other useful substances from mills’ waste products, potentially doubling the paper industry’s profits.