Cellulosic ethanol produced from corn kernels

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Researchers at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) announced that they have successfully produced ethanol from the cellulosic or bran portion of the corn kernel.

“This research is demonstrated proof of the viability of ‘generation 2.0 ethanol,’” NCERC Director John Caupert said. “By utilizing existing technologies readily available in the commercial marketplace, the center was able to produce a biofuel that builds upon the strengths of conventional corn ethanol and the promise of cellulosic ethanol, thus making bolt-on cellulosic ethanol a reality.”

“Any of the 211 existing ethanol plants in the United States could be retrofitted with existing bolt-on technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn without the need to build new facilities,” Caupert said.

The NCERC is a one of a kind and is located 20 miles from downtown St. Louis in University Park on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The center professes to support a diverse clientele, including academia, government, technology providers, trade associations, and domestic and foreign ethanol producers; much of its operation is funded through private corporations and associations such as the National Corn Growers Association.

NCERC Assistant Director of Biological Research Sabrina Trupia emphasized the importance of the demonstration in future research opportunities. NCERC provides a wide array of research services at one convenient location, which is expected to help speed up the commercialization of corn bran cellulosic ethanol production. Services include an analytical lab, a fermentation lab and a pilot-scale ethanol production process facility. 

“This is a significant milestone with immediate industry impact, but producing cellulosic ethanol from corn bran is also proof that cellulosic ethanol could be produced at NCERC utilizing any cellulosic feedstock,” Trupia said. “From a research perspective, this is only the first step in a very exciting road toward a future of (U.S.) energy security.”

The NCERC credits a series of actions, grants and capital gifts for making the research possible, including the formation of the NCERC Technical Advisory Committee in 2008, the Center’s 2009 Advanced Biofuels Initiative and two significant capital gift donations: a corn fractionation system (2010) and fermentation suite (2011). These steps were complemented by a research and development grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“It’s the culmination of four years of activity here at the center, and a shining example of a public-private partnership that works,” Caupert said. The NCERC’s vision is to be feedstock agnostic, and the center is actively seeking industry, academic and government agency partnerships to advance their research.


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Charlie Peters    
Hayward CA  |  May, 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM

GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796 Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Senator Obama supported the California 2006 Prop. 87, a GMO corn ethanol welfare program. Bill, Al, have changed opinion on the ethanol mandate, I wonder if Obama will make this the time for CHANGE? I support a waiver of the ethanol mandate, voluntary use of ethanol in my gas. Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit. It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change. We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas. Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time. The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree. AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results. GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

Charlie Peters    
Hayward CA  |  August, 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Lots of corn along I-5 south of Sacramento that is reported to use 2000 gal of water to grow corn for 1 gal of ethanol for my gas tank. Should Governor Brown consider a waiver supported by the UN? Is fed EPA confused when a Lodi bread baker is taken to fed court to collect $625,000.00 fine for generating ozone from the ethanol made by baking bread while mandating millions of tons in our gas that may be a bigger deal than MTBE to our ground water supply? Do water folks check for ethanol in our drinking water? Drinking ethanol maybe rated as causing cancer but MTBE never has. Does ATF audit for the payment of $17 tax of moonshine from the GMO corn fuel ethanol? Let's see, a 10,000 gal tanker truck can move around a $170,000.00 tax and a reported $0.50 cent process can move fuel grade to food grade.


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