Determining the Cost of Producing Ethanol from Corn Starch and Lignocellulosic Feedstocks
Determining the Cost of Producing Ethanol from Corn Starch and Lignocellulosic Feedstocks The mature corn-to-ethanol industry has many similarities to the emerging lignocellulose-to-ethanol industry. It is certainly possible that some of the early practitioners of this new technology will be the current corn ethanol producers. In order to begin to explore synergies between the two industries, a joint project between two agencies responsible for aiding these technologies in the Federal government was established. This joint project of the USDA-ARS and DOE/NREL looked at the two processes on a similar process design and engineering basis, and will eventually explore ways to combine them. This report describes the comparison of the processes, each producing 25 million annual gallons of fuel ethanol. This paper attempts to compare the two processes as mature technologies, which requires assuming that the technology improvements needed to make the lignocellulosic process commercializable are achieved, and enough plants have been built to make the design well-understood. Ass umptions about yield and design improvements possible from continued research were made for the emerging lignocellulose process. In order to compare the lignocellulose-to-ethanol process costs with the commercial corn-to-ethanol costs, it was assumed that the lignocellulose plant was an Nth generation plant, built after the industry had been sufficiently established to eliminate first-of-a-kind costs. more »
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