Cellulose Ethanol Plant May Foreshadow Future

By Tonya Vinas A Canadian plant that has started producing ethanol made from discarded plant materials is a beacon for cleaner, and potentially cheaper, energy for manufacturers and consumers, some scientists say. Ottawa-based Iogen Corp. announced this week that it is using cellulose -- plant scraps -- as opposed to the edible portion of plants -- to produce ethanol, an alternative to high-CO2 producing fossil-based fuels. The company is claiming to have the world's only cellulose ethanol "demonstration-scale" facility. According to Iogen, all vehicles in current use could run on a mix of 10% cellulose ethanol and gasoline with no changes required. David Paterson, vice president of General Motors Canada called the announcement "a very significant product development that could make a considerable contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission . . . "We are pleased to see a leading-edge Canadian company like Iogen develop the next generation of ethanol, and we encourage its adoption in the marketplace." According to Iogen, the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from cellulose ethanol are three times greater than those from grain-based ethanol. Also, the company stresses, it can be made from the non-food portion of crops such as corn, wheat and barley, making use of scraps from these basic crops. The company says it is in the final proving stages of the product before rolling it out to full-scale commercial production. Final plant locations have not been determined. However, Petro-Canada, a partner with Iogen in the venture, said it expects to be the first user of the cellulose ethanol at its Montreal refinery. Other partners include Shell Global.

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