December 24, 2006

Bacteria - "Miniature Chemical Factories" Convert Waste to Ethanol

Michael Kanellos, a staff writer for CNET News has written an addendum to the Mascoma press release on New York's agreement to help fund a cellulosic ethanol plant near Rochester.

Missing in the article is the cost of R&D, producing, and handling the enzymes.

I suggest that Bioengineering Resources Inc.(BRI) should be added to the list of companies pioneering the use of microbes and bacteria to perform feedstock-to-ethanol conversion. Instead of isolating microbes for individual feedstock, BRI uses microbes to digest gasified feedstock (syngas) to produce ethanol and water. The benefit: the syngas can be more universally produced from blended feedstock. Plus the process is much faster (minutes vs. days) and can be run continuously rather than in batch mode.

Certain excerpts from Michael's article bear repeating...

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New York: Will pay for bacteria
Mascoma has landed a $14.8 million grant from the state of New York to build a plant near Rochester that will turn paper sludge, wood chips and other agricultural waste into ethanol.

The 15,000-square-foot facility should be open toward the end of 2007 or early 2008. When it's fully operational, it will churn out about 500,000 gallons of biomass ethanol a year, said Mascoma President Colin South.Churning ethanol out of waste products significantly lowers the cost of the raw material. South estimated that the biomass used in Mascoma's processes will cost 60 percent or less than the feedstocks for traditional ethanol.

Just as important, Mascoma and others believe that exploiting genetically enhanced microbes to convert corn into sugar, rather than relying on traditional industrial processes, will reduce production costs and factory energy consumption. Microbes, after all, can be viewed as miniature chemical factories. Other microbe companies include Ceres, LiveFuels, Dyadic International, Diversa, and Synthetic Genomics.

Mascoma's twist on the microbe manufacturing formula is that several of the steps required to turn biomass into ethanol can be combined, thereby further cutting costs. The company's primary organism is Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum, which breaks down plant material in a warm environment.


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2 comments:

GreenGOP said...

Governor Pataki, one of the nation's leading green republicans, deserves real credit for bringing renewables to NYS.

Anonymous said...

Any one know where in colorado is the location of a bio plant which is converting waste such as old tires baby diapers and other waste into a bio fuel with either bacteria or enzymes
send replys to me at
theman2248@aol.com