Recently, Novozymes, a company that makes enzymes used to make goods such as household detergents and soft drinks, announced that it has developed an enzyme that will make it possible to derive cellulosic ethanol from waste material like household trash or corn husks.  This company has discovered something that has been sought after by many clean energy producers- a way to inexpensively convert biowaste into fuel.  Novozymes officially announced its new enzyme, Cellic CTec3, February 22, 2012, and already has deals in place to begin supplying it.

To produce cellulosic fuel, biomass such as wood chips, cornstalks, or household waste is required.  The biomass is first broken down into a pulp, and then is mixed with enzymes to produce sugar.  This sugar is fermented with yeast, and the result is a fuel in liquid form that burns cleaner than petroleum-based gasoline. 

Although the raw materials used to make cellulosic ethanol are far less expensive than the raw materials used to make traditional ethanol, the process is more complex and therefore more expensive.  Mr. Nielsen, the vice president of Novozymes, thinks Cellic CTec3 will bring the cost of cellulosic ethanol down to a price comparable to gasoline and corn ethanol. 

Novozymes has deals in place with M&G Group and Fiberight to begin supplying Cellic CTec3 as early as this year.  M&G Group is opening a plant in Italy this year and will use wheat straw, nonfood crops, and other feed stocks as biomass sources for cellulosic ethanol production.  Fiberight plans to open a plant in Virginia this year and a plant in Iowa next year and will use municipal solid waste as a biomass source.

This discovery is great news for the green energy sector and the environment alike.  Innovation like this is necessary if the earth is to be sustainable for generations to come.  Do you think cellulosic ethanol has the potential to become a major fuel source?

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