LAST PAPER - Justin Tsu Environmental 404 Professor Paul...

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Justin Tsu Environmental 404 Professor Paul Rasmussen Cellulose: To Be or Not to Be. .. a Biofuel? What will be the next generation of alternative energy? Will the world be temporarily graced with another huge oil or coal deposit find or will Earth be saved with smart clean and renewable nature energy like solar and wind? Nothing is positive except for the advent of cellulosic ethanol, a rising and hopeful sign of alternative fuel. Using cellulose in the production of ethanol has much potential in becoming a very reliable and efficient alternative energy source.
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One looming controversy in the ethanol producing community is the use of corn in a feedstock. A feedstock is essentially a conglomeration of whatever material a company wants that undergoes a conversion into ethanol. There is no molecular difference between ethanol derived from corn versus cellulose 4 . However, the method of deriving each type of ethanol is different. Whereas corn ethanol is derived from the edible part of feedstock, cellulosic ethanol is derived from the inedible part. Additionally, a long-term difference between these two types of ethanol is based on estimations of production and net efficiency 2 . Corn based fuel production is expected to exceed 7.5 billion gallons before 2012 which is double the amount of ethanol produced since 2004. Cellulose, on the other hand, is expected to produce around 67 billion gallons of ethanol annually if 1 billion tons of cellulosic stores (i.e. straw, corn stover, and other forages) are gathered. In essence, 67 billion gallons of ethanol is equivalent to 30% of American gasoline consumption.
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According the graph above, the benefits of cellulosic ethanol are sure to become evident to producers of fuel, especially those producing grain and corn-based ethanol 4 . Cellulosic ethanol production is going to greatly exceed corn ethanol and will supply 30% of the nation’s gasoline supply by 2030 and to no surprise either. In May 2008, legislation passed the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, which encouraged and continues to encourage the production of so called advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. Within this bill there is compensation provided for ideas that move away from the kernel form of energy and towards other sources, like cellulose. Likewise, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides even more compensation for cellulosic ethanol and is estimated to lop 60 cents off of ethanol production costs per gallon by 2015. Legislation is hoping that this compensation will cause a movement away from corn and towards cellulose and to make the latter more cost competitive than the former. This is already occurring with the 2007 Texas Emerging Technology Fund, prize money for cellulosic ethanol research. Similarly, the Department of Energy’s Bioethanol Pilot Plant, an ethanol production from
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2012 for the course ENVIRON 404 taught by Professor Rasmussen during the Fall '11 term at University of Michigan.

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LAST PAPER - Justin Tsu Environmental 404 Professor Paul...

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