Our plant supplants your plant: a real-life cellulosic ethanol refinery. Photo: Iogen
Sometimes it seems virtually anything can be made into fuel. As though, if we had the right technology, we could throw together old T-shirts, bumper stickers, and pine cones to make a magical elixir to run the millions of cars on North America’s highways.
That’s not an entirely far-fetched scenario. The days of filling up our cars on dead dinosaur goo are likely coming to an end. Instead, we’ll be using fuel made from plants and plant waste. (Don’t hold your breath for the bumper stickers.)
The great white hope in today’s biofuels world is cellulosic ethanol, and the one pre-commercial demonstration plant currently producing it lies in the great white north. It’s run by Iogen Corporation, a Canadian biotech firm that has been around since the 1970s, manufacturing enzyme products for the pulp and paper, textile, and animal-feed industries.
At its cellulose demonstration plant in Ottawa, Canada, Iogen converts wheat, oat, and barley straw into 3 million liters of ethanol per year (about 793,000 gallons). The plant — w... Read more