ZeaChem expects high second generation yields

Colorado-based cellulosic ethanol specialist ZeaChem is on track to achieve yields of over 2,000 gallons per acre per year at a demonstration plant under construction in Boardman, Oregon, US.

This yield is comparable with algae, but with fewer technical challenges to surmount. By contrast, the highest attained yields of ethanol from corn are about 450 gallons per acre per year.

The principal advantage of Zeachem’s cellulosic ethanol process is that it can use faster-growing feedstocks. ZeaChem uses a poplar, which can be sustainably harvested at 15 dry tonnes of biomass per acre per year.

The same basic process can also produce longer-chain hydrocarbons such as propylene, lactic acid and biobutanol.

According to ZeaChem, the higher efficiency of its process reduces carbon dioxide emissions to 1.45 pounds per gallon of ethanol, compared to 12.54 pounds per gallon for manufacture of ethanol from corn.

There is also an obvious environmental advantage in reducing the amount of land needed to produce the fuel.

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