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Bioethanol is the world’s leading alternative liquid fuel with an annual global production of around 30 million tonnes and a market value of about $13 billion.
This renewable bio-fuel can be used as a blending component in gasoline or in its pure form as currently practiced in Brazil. Growth is in double digits with the market widely predicted to reach about 48 million tonnes by 2006.
Globally, about three quarters of ethanol production is used for transportation fuel, either as pure ethanol or most commonly as a blend with gasoline (predominantly at rates from 5% to 25%). VW, Fiat and GM already offer ‘flexfuel’ cars in Brazil that can use pure ethanol or any blend.
Ethanol is water soluble, biodegradable and neither toxic nor carcinogenic and as such ideal as an easily transportable alternative to gasoline. It is also the only credible alternative to carcinogenic MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), currently the primary octane booster.
The production and use of ethanol represents a carbon cycle. Plants absorb CO2 during growth, thereby “recycling” the carbon released during fuel combustion. A fuel cycle analysis by Argonne National Laboratory in the USA concluded that the use of ethanol-blended fuels already reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions by 12 to 19%.
Current technology to produce bioethanol is based on conventional yeast fermentation technology that is inefficient and has many drawbacks.
TMO Thermophile technology will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of bioethanol production by up to 50% and can be deployed for retrofit of existing plants, new facilities and in conjunction with biomass treatment processes.
East of England Development Agency (EEDA)
Available on request from EEDA
Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.
Joseph DiPardo, US Department of Energy
Renewable Fuels Association