2008 Awards

Producing Ethanol from Biomass by Extracting Value Prior to Combustion - N.C. State University

Funding recipient:  North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Award amount:  $198,178

With 17.6 million acres of forest, covering over half of its land area, North Carolina is rich in woody biomass – a renewable resource for fuel ethanol production.  North Carolina State University researchers are implementing a woody biomass-to-ethanol production model that optimizes both ethanol yields and energy costs.  This project involves a simple process scheme that addresses both the complexity and the capital cost issues of producing ethanol from biomass by adding a wood-to-ethanol processing plant adjacent to a wood-to-energy power generating station. The ethanol plant would process biomass prior to its combustion in a coal fired power station, which is one likely scenario to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for North Carolina power generation.  Briefly, the process calls for hot water or steam treatment of wood (chips or forest residues) to extract some of the sugar from the wood. The dissolved sugars are then converted to ethanol by fermentation. The wood residue is sent to a boiler and burned as conventionally practiced. Financial analysis of an investment of the ethanol plant adjacent to an existing wood-fired power plant shows an after-tax Internal Rate of Return greater than 20% without subsidies.

Leveraged funds reported: $70,000
North Carolina counties benefiting from this project: Wake

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