Oregon getting a sweet ethanol plant

Ethanol guyThe Oregonian reported today that Boardman, Oregon is getting a new plant that will produce ethanol, but this ethanol plant has an interesting twist. Pacific Ethanol received a grant from the US Department of Energy that will allow the company to build a test cellulosic ethanol plant next to it’s existing conventional corn-based biofuels plant in Boardman.

How does cellulosic ethanol differ from conventional ethanol? Easy – normal, every day ethanol is made primarily from corn. To me that presents a problem because since corn is used in many many activities (including meat production, it is driving up costs of many consumer items. Been to the store lately to buy a gallon of milk or ice cream? Notice the price was insane when compared to recent memory? Corn based ethanol is a major contributor to that.

Cellulosic ethanol, on the other hand, can be made from cellulose plant fibers including stalks, grain straw, switch grass, and quick-growing trees. This is exciting news because these quick growing trees are abundant in Eastern Oregon, if you’ve driven to Pendleton along I-84 you’ve undoubtedly seen the huge poplar stands on the south side if the road.

According to the article, the new ethanol plant will be able to produce 2.7 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually.

I’m very excited by this development.

Article link: Oregonian

Image Credit: Wolfgang Wildner

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