Ethanol produced from agricultural products can be a viable and efficient biofuel. But arguments it include the question of whether the emissions caused by the use of petroleum-based fuels to farm the corn and produce the ethanol may be greater than the emissions saved using ethanol as an alternative fuel. And there is the concern that using corn to produce ethanol diverts it from the food supply. But ethanol can be produced from other raw materials.
Bluefire Ethanol, based in Irvine, California, claims that it has demonstrated it can produce ethanol from urban trash, rice and wheat straws, wood waste, and other agricultural residues using a concentrated acid hydrolysis technology process patented by Arkenol. Bluefire’s goal is to take cellulose from garbage and green municipal wastes and convert them to ethanol in biorefineries located in markets with the highest demand for renewable fuels in order to reduce delivery costs.
Arkenol patented the technology to convert cellulosic wastes into ethanol in 1997, and Bluefire Ethanol holds the exclusive North American license to employ the technology. As reported on Grainnet, in March 2009 Bluefire announced an agreement with Dr. William Farone and his company Applied Power Concepts Inc. Dr. Farone was one of the author’s of Arkenol’s patents. They will work together to continue enhancing the technology to produce higher value cellulosic derived biofuels.
As reported on the JumpIntoTomorrow website, Bluefire Ethanol is developing its first ethanol biorefinery in Lancaster, California. The plant will use cellulosic wastes from Southern California landfills and is projected to produce 3.9 million gallons of ethanol per year. In October 2009, BlueFire received a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build its second commercial ethanol plant in California. The ethanol is to be sold under a long-term contract with Petro-Diamond Inc., a Mitsubishi subsidiary.
In February 2010, Bluefire Ethanol applied for a $250 million federal loan guarantee to build an ethanol biorefinery in Fulton, Mississippi under a Department of Energy program that provides federal guarantees for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and advanced transmission and distribution technology projects. The Fulton plant had already received an $88 million grant from the Department of Energy. The plant will use woody biomass, mill residue and other cellulosic waste to produce 19 million gallons of ethanol a year.
According to Bluefire Ethanol, construction of the Fulton plant is scheduled to begin by the end of 2010. Its projects in California and Mississippi are expected to create over 1,000 construction jobs, and once operations begin, more than 100 operations and maintenance jobs.
In order to demonstrate the technology for converting cellulosic wastes into ethanol, Bluefire Technology has operated a pilot plant in Southern California for about five years. The technology has been successfully used in the Izumi Biorefinery in Japan, which belongs to an unrelated company, since 2003 to produce ethanol for the Japanese fuel market.
BlueFire Ethanol Applies for DOE Loan Guarantee; Company Seeks to Secure Complete Funding for Fulton, MS Biorefinery – PR Newswire
Bluefire Ethanol Fuels, Inc. – Yahoo Finance
BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc. Partners With William Farone and Applied Power Concepts Inc. to Advance Arkenol Cellulosic Ethanol Technology – Grainnet
BlueFire to Receive DOE Grant to Build Cellulosic-Ethanol Plant – U.S. Department of Energy
There’s Oil In Them Thar Garbage – JumpIntoTomorrow.com