Generation 1.5 Ethanol

According to a new Issue Brief: Generation 1.5 Ethanol: The Bridge to Cellulosic Biofuels,” the shortfall of cellulosic biofuel production in the U.S. is threatening the existence of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). Authored by Philip W. Madson, P.E., president of KATZEN International for Ethanol Across America, the growth of the biofuels industry will be facilitated by modifying RFS2 to shift away from the singular focus on cellulosic biofuels by implementing policies to promote a wider range of advanced biofuels.

Today, there are only two pathways approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brazilian ethanol produced from sugarcane and grain sorghum to ethanol produced at plants using biogas in combinate with heat and power (CHP) technology. The paper argues that developing additional advanced biofuels, or Generation 1.5 ethanol, will be the bridge to Generation 2.0 biofuels, or cellulosic biofuels.

“Unfortunately, RFS has been implemented in a manner that has led the biofuels industry to its current no-growth predicament,” Madson writes in the Issue Brief. He also notes that requiring 16 billion gallons of biofuels to be “cellulosic” and thus reduce greenhouse gas emission by 60 percent, ignores the benefits that could be realized from “non-cellulosic” advanced biofuels.

Madson continues, “By mandating growth to principally cellulosic biofuels, the RFS2 effectively handcuffs the biofuels industry and forces it to put its limited resources into the development of Gen 2 biofuels, which simply cannot be commercially deployed on the prescribed schedule.”

Generation 1.5 Ethanol offers several steps to be taken to encourage the development of advanced biofuels. First, solidify market demand; mandates and requirements alone are not going to be enough. This can be done through increased production of flex fuel vehicles and more choice of higher biofuel blends at the pump. Second, current RFS programs could be amended to allow any feedstock that can demonstrate compliance with the true intent of the RFS to quality as an Advanced Biofuel and essentially do away with the narrowly focused cellulosic requirement.

Ultimately, the paper argues, while working within the framework of RFS2, all the benefits can be realized by simply removing the requirements for cellulosic biofuels and removing the cap on advanced biofuels from other feedstocks.

Click here to download Generation 1.5 Ethanol.

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