BIO_Cellulosic Ethanol

BIO_Cellulosic Ethanol - Cellulosic Ethanol: Creating a...

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Cellulosic Ethanol: Creating a Sustainable Bio-Fuel with Biotechnology By: Jordan Anderson The search for a sustainable bio-fuel is on high alert with the escalating impacts of global warming. The adverse effects of burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere; the transportation sector accounts for roughly 25%. Oil is a non-renewable resource and increasing prices make this issue even more significant. Many bio-fuels have emerged which claim to be the solution, but in the long run some of them may cause more harm than good. The emerging Cellulosic Ethanol (CE) industry has the potential to become the most efficient, sustainable bio-fuel source on the market; helping to reduce dependence on oil through environmentally-friendly processes. CE is different than other types of bio-fuels, which rely on a single resource such as corn, sugarcane and soy. It has the capability of turning all kinds of plant material into fuel. A practical application of CE is the use bio-waste, which is any kind of discarded plant material like agricultural and forestry waste that would instead be thrown away. “According to a 2005 study by the U.S. departments of Energy and Agriculture, the U.S. could convert 1.3 billion dry tons a year of biomass into 227 billion liters (60 billion gallons) a year of ethanol with little impact on the food or timber harvest and in the process displace 30% of the nations’ transportation fuel” (Service 2007). This is just the beginning of the possibilities with CE, but before it can reach its full potential advancements in the processing of plant material into ethanol needs to occur. These advancements focus on increasing energy efficiency and lowering production costs to make it an economically viable industry.
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The three most expensive processing operations are related to overcoming the natural resistance of plants to the biological breakdown of sugars. All biomass is a mixture of lignin, organic compounds, sugars and cellulose. Converting cellulose to ethanol fuel is a difficult process because of 2 additional steps in comparison to corn and
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course BI 211 taught by Professor Postlewait during the Winter '08 term at University of Oregon.

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BIO_Cellulosic Ethanol - Cellulosic Ethanol: Creating a...

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