BlueFire Ethanol (OTC: BFRE.pk) has released further information about its up to $40 million grant from DOE's cellulosic ethanol grant program to develop a solid waste biorefinery using their concentrated acid hydrolysis process at a landfill in Southern California.
The Southern California Biorefinery Project will turn green waste and wood residues at landfills into about 19 million gallons of fuel grade ethanol per year. Additional products that will also be sold include lignin, gypsum, and yeast. BlueFires's current production estimates for the project will be significantly lower that DOE's cellulosic ethanol goal of $1.07/gal in production costs by 2012, and DOE's current estimate of approximately $2.26/gal.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of this year with start-up expected on or before the end of 2009. Because it's process captures the more potent greenhouse gas methane as part of its process as well as provide renewable fuel, BlueFire will reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
This grant give BlueFire and its process a lot of creditability. Their projected cost figures help clear the air about where we are heading in ethanol costs and provide an optomistic outlook about the cellulosic ethanol industry. These costs, being less than half of current ethanol cost, are bad news for the corn ethanol producers.
According to their website their process is adaptable to a wide range of biomass including:
agricultural residues (straws, corn stalks and cobs, bagasse, cotton gin trash, palm oil wastes, etc.)
crops grown specifically for their biomass (grasses, sweet sorghum, fast growing trees, etc.),
I suspect that many of these feedstocks would result in a higher cost than for landfill wastes because there would be an added cost for the feedstock for some of them, perhaps a differant quantity of acid would be required and the byproduct value would be differant. None-the-less the landfill waste projects are significant with over 1,600 landfills in the U.S. and the differential cost for other feedstocks probably would not be that great. Using the same acid hydrolysis process for all feedstocks is a big advantage over enzymatic processes which have to tailer their enzymes for certain feedstocks.