BlueFire: "Waste" Cellulose To Ethanol
Perhaps the best kept secret in the ethanol industry is BlueFire Ethanol, which is the only cellulose-to-ethanol company that has demonstrated their production capabilities. BlueFire produces ethanol from solid municipal waste, rice and wheat straws and wood waste. The company went public yesterday. Iogen, a Canadian company, is also in the cellulose-to-ethanol race. Previously, we pointed out the ethanol efficiency debate here and here. In this case the ethanol comes from "waste" cellulose, so the calculations are a bit different. Still, from an ecological perspective, one potential drawback is that the "waste" cellulose will not go back into the soil and sequester carbon.
The company does have an exclusive, North American license of the technology for use in the production of ethanol for the transportation fuel market. Since 2003, the technology has been successfully used in the IZUMI pilot plant operated by JGC, the licensee of Arkenol for Japan and SE Asia, to produce ethanol for the Japanese transportation fuel market. Over the last 10 years, the initial testing on a vast array of potential feedstock has been completed both in the U.S. and at various locations throughout the world. BlueFire has completed the arrangement of the major commitments necessary to proceed with final development of its first commercial facility which will be sited in California.