Interstitial cell matter could be valuable but might

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Interstitial cell matter could be valuable, but might require significant purification. Markets for furfural and acetic acid are in place, although it is unlikely that they could sustain the effect of a fully commercialized lignocellulose-to-ethanol industry. When looking at co-products, there is the potential for a small market, high-value product to provide a step up for the first few plants. After that, co-products must have large enough markets so that they are not saturated by a mature industry. VIII Prospects and Challenges for a Combined Process In 1998, DOE provided funds to allow corn ethanol producers to investigate the possibilities for producing ethanol from lignocellulose at their facilities. Five companies from the industry teamed with engineering construction firms and other professionals to explore the potential of co-location of cellulosic ethanol with their existing corn ethanol processes. The final reports of five of the six contracts were received in the first quarter of 2000 and technically reviewed by NREL. All of the projects involving corn stover use at a dry mill were deemed unprofitable, with negative or zero return on investment. With reduced enzyme costs, at least one of the corn stover projects would be profitable and potentially a second. The complete reports are available through NREL and a comparison report is due to be issued later in 2000. From this work, the following challenges were identified: 1) Use of the existing plant infrastructure and co-mingling of process steps was not recommended. Use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) like the rZ. mobilis made combining the lignin solids with the DDG a perceived negative. The presence of lignin in the solids also contributed to this issue. We need to better understand what the issues are surrounding GMO use and its perceived effect on the DDG market and value. Capital was not reduced in these co-location scenarios because the process streams were kept separate virtually the entire way through the process. 2) Many of the plants found that they simply did not have excess capacity in key areas like distillation and fermentation.
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28 3) Feed handling for residue (corn stover) is unproven, and conceptual designs are believed to be costly. The capital associated with handling baled stover is estimated to be large, and the labor is anticipated to be high. 4) Having knowledgeable operations and laboratory staff was perceived to be one of the greatest benefits. 5) The enzymatic hydrolysis step is costly, and determining the actual costs of either purchasing enzyme or producing it on-site is difficult. The contractors found little information to use in estimating the cost of enzyme. These results and recommendations can be tested on a co-location model, which is the next planned step for the joint USDA-ARS/NREL project. With a co-location model, scenarios and cost sensitivities can be investigated to help determine what scenarios might be promising.
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29 IX References 1 Building a Bridge to the Corn Ethanol Industry , NREL Subcontract ZXE-9-18080-01. Work performed by Vogelbusch U.S.A. Inc., Houston, TX, January 10, 2000.
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