Lignol – Turning Biomass into Biofuel

Alcohol has played a major part in human history: Celebrations are synonymous with alcohol; religious ceremonies involve paying tribute with a sip of wine; alcohol fends off infection; many foods just would not be the same without a dash of Cabernet.

Ethanol has also played a role as a fuel source. Lamps were fueled by ethanol in the early 1800′s while certain Ford models were developed to run on the liquid in the early 1900s. The popularity of ethanol as a fuel dwindled with time, but has made a comeback in recent years.

Ethanol, also known as grain or drinking alcohol, is produced through the fairly simple process of fermentation where micro-organisms like yeast digest the sugars in plants to ethanol.

Lignol Biofuel, a Canadian Bio-fuel company that recently commercialized a unique ‘cellulose to ethanol’ technology, plans to take advantage of the renewable fuel demands. Their website states that “12% of the US corn crop is used to produce fuel ethanol. Increasing demand is expected to drive that figure to nearly 30% by 2012. New technologies are required to produce ethanol from biomass cellulose rather than from the fermentation of valuable grains. The company’s technology and know-how has positioned the company as one of the world’s most promising “Cellulose to Ethanol” solutions.”

Corn grain is the most common starch used to make ethanol in the U.S., but lignol is unique in the sense that it has found ways to convert both softwood and hardwood species to bio-fuel. Initially, Lignol plans on processing wood-chips and available cellulose feed-stocks (such as corn), but may find even more efficient alternatives in the near future.

Lignol is taking a variety of steps to insure success. For example, “Lignol is also considering several strategic investment opportunities in energy related projects, which have synergies with its bio-refining technology. Examples of such projects include: electric power projects, ethanol projects with access to cellulose feed-stocks and pulp mill conversions to alternative energy opportunities.”

There are many benefits associated with ethanol production: For example, Valuable bi-products from the fermentation process include carbon dioxide and distillers wet-grains used for animal feed.

Ethanol also has the advantage of blending with gasoline without an issue. In fact, it is even advantages in small amounts (less than 10%) since the addition of ethanol reduces toxic emissions from vehicles and keeps cars running smoother without the use of octane enhancers. One of the more attractive qualities is that ethanol is readily bio-degradable. The non-toxic liquid breaks down when spilled.

Companies invested in the popularity of bio-fuels, like Lignol, are bound to be successful.

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