Once upon a time, biofuels were the answer. Remember? We were all going to drive cars fed on cheap ears of corn, breath cleaner air, and declare ourselves free from foreign oil.
Unfortunately, our first attempts to sow a renewable-fueled future reaped some unintended consequences. Biofuels created new demand for fuel crops, which raised prices, which may have edged out food crops. Farmers did better, which was good. But with more than 900 million people on the edge of starvation globally, you had to wonder about the morality of diverting the fall harvest into your automobile.
In fact, 26% of the world’s corn supply is now burned as ethanol–enough to feed millions of people. Some say that’s a good reason to abandon programs to promote ethanol as an alternative energy source.
The US Department of Agriculture disagrees.
In a 2006 report, the USDA said that while it’s true the US isn’t exporting as much corn for food as it once did, there may be an alternative: cellulosic biomass.
Cellulosic biomass is plant material you don’t necessarily find on the supper table. It may include sawdust, forest slash, brush, corn stover, and so on. Today, much of this biomass goes unused. But the USDA says with new technologies, we could use it to displace at least 30% of US petroleum consumption–without impacting world food supplies.
So, now meet Creo customer BioGasol. This Danish company is developing just such a new technology, what it calls “second generation” bioethenol — fuel produced from lignocellulosic biomass. Using Creo Parametric, BioGasol designs parametrically scalable equipment and plants for its innovative fuel production process.
These second generation plants pretreat, hydrolyze, ferment, and distill materials, like cornstalks, on an industrial scale to produce ethanol. Plus, they recycle and reuse the water in the process for better sustainability.
BioGasol has received numerous awards for its promise and innovation in sustainable energy. Currently, it is the recipient of major grants from both the US Department of Energy and Danish government. Plus, BioGasol has signed a joint development agreement with Tate & Lyle, a global supplier of sweeteners and other food additives, to evaluate bioethanol production from the thousands of tons of waste corn fibers that company produces each year.