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New York Cellulosic Plant Begins Producing Ethanol From Wood Chips

Cellulosic ethanol pioneer Mascoma Corp. said Wednesday it has begun producing the alcohol-based fuel from wood chips at its demonstration refinery in New York,

The company, which has benefited from investments by General Motors Corp. and a number of heavyweight venture capital firms specializing in green energy, uses a genetically modified bacteria to break down the usually hard-to-digest cellulose in wood chips and other biomass.

The fermented biomass is used to produce so-called cellulosic ethanol (because it comes from cellulose).

Mascoma' $30 million demonstration refinery in Rome, N.Y., has the capacity to produce up to 200,000 gallons of ethanol a year, and the biofuel is to be used by General Motors in its test car fleet.   

Mascoma says it wants to use the same technology in a commercial plant it is planning for Northern Michigan, where chips from nearby lumber mills would provide the necessary biomass.

But the company says its process also can be used to break down the cellulose in other materials, including portions of sugarcane and corn stalks, that are not part of the human food chain.

Mascoma says the 40-million-gallon Michigan plant would cost at least $200 million to build and that it still is attempting to raise the necessary funds.

Tags: Alternative Fuels, Biofuels, Ethanol, General Motors, Celllulosic Ethanol, General Motors, Mascoma

New York Cellulosic Plant Begins Producing Ethanol From Wood Chips was originally published by Green Car Advisor. Read the full story by clicking here.

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