Cellulosic ethanol can considerably reduce gasoline use by 2030

As the debate on the future of cellulosic ethanol gains steam, a new study shows the U.S. can replace a third of its annual gasoline use with ethanol by 2030.

The study, jointly conducted by General Motors and Sandia National Laboratories, predicts that out of 90 billion gallons of ethanol that experts say need to be produced in 2030, 75 billion gallons could be cellulosic ethanol, which usually makes use of feedstock like corn-combs and switch grass.

A press release by Sandia National Laboratories says the study examined four sources of biofuels: agricultural residue, such as corn stover and wheat straw; forest residue; dedicated energy crop, including switch grass; and short rotation woody crops, such as willow and poplar trees. It found that the cost of producing, harvesting, storing and transporting these sources of cellulosic ethanol to newly built biorefineries was minimal and would not lead to a price hike of the final product.

“… an increase to 90 billion gallons of ethanol could be sustainably achieved by 2030 within real-world economic and environmental parameters,” says the study.

Reinforcing the argument that cellulosic ethanol could be produced in a sustainable way, the study notes that
“…large-scale cellulosic biofuel production could be achieved at or below current water consumption levels of petroleum fuels from on-shore oil production and refining.”

The study comes hot on the heels of another study, earlier released by the University of Minnesota, which shows cellulosic ethanol production contribute less to climate change compared to gasoline or even food crops-based ethanol.





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