Designer microbes make cheaper ethanol

Coskata, in partnership with GM, has bred a superior breed of microbes to make ethanol from bio sources. Original estimates were that this fuel could be be made for less than $1US. Now the cost has significantly dropped! If ever there was something that could reduce dependence on foreign oil, be renewable and CO2 neutral this is it. And the infrastructure is there with all the flex fuel vehicles already on the road.

Coskata. At the Platts Cellulosic Ethanol and Biofuels Conference in Chicago earlier in October, Coskata reported significant recent gains in the output (grams of ethanol per liter per hour) from its microorganisms that take it well below its early commercial target of an operational cost of <$1.00 per gallon. The company declines to publish the actual production numbers for competitive reasons.

The Coskata process takes a thermo-biochemical pathway via a three-stage process. It first gasifies the feedstock, then uses microorganisms to ferment the syngas into ethanol. In the final stage, pervaporation technology separates and recovers the ethanol. Depending on the feedstock and with the cogeneration of bioelectricity or steam export, the Coskata process can result in up to a 96% reduction of CO2 in the production of the fuel and is up to 7.7 times more energy positive compared to conventional gasoline, according to an evaluation Dr. Michael Wang at Argonne National Laboratory.

The original article estimates the huge biofuel capacity from sources in China and the US.

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