April 4, 2007

E3 Biofuels and Closed Loop Ethanol Plants

While attending the 25x'25 Summit in Washington, D.C. last month I learned about the opening of an innovative facility this month in Mead, Nebraska. Its development highlights one of the reasons why I shake my head whenever I hear skepticism voiced about ethanol and net energy. People forget that technologies improve with deployment.

A company called E3 BioFuels-Mead, LLC has patented technology that brings together three proven components into a single, closed-loop system:

1. A large cattle feedlot or dairy that produces large quantities of cow manure needing treatment.
2. An anaerobic digester that transforms the cow manure into biogas.
3. An ethanol plant that runs on the biogas instead of natural gas or coal, and whose leftover wet grain is fed back to the cattle.

The result is an energy-efficient, low-cost solution to America's energy needs. Not only that, but the process of creating this ethanol doesn't contribute to global warming and actually reduces air and water pollution.

Genesis became fully operational in April 2007. It's the first-ever commercial plant to make ethanol with virtually no fossil fuels for heat, instead using manure and corn cellulose to make biogas.

E3 BioFuels plans to build 15 more such plants within five years.

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guanyin said...

I was delighted to find this site! In 1983 I did my masters research on the use of biowaste- ie horse and farm manure, and sewage treatment plant waste to use as a biofuel. Using corn directly is a disaster- tying up agricultural land depletes the soil and removes FOOD from the system. Last week's article in the NY Times (Jan 27, 2008) on "Rethinking the Meat-guzzler" totally ignores that we have not a "problem" but the SOLUTION in animal and farm waste. It is too bad that farmers have dropped the ball when it comes to seeing the benefits to humanity. Manure should be used as 1. compost to restore nutrition to our soils, 2. source of energy 3. a benefit of having a large food source. Manure is a resource that fits in beautifully with the carbon cycle and has great promise to help our global warming problems and food for humanity as well.

C. Scott Miller said...

You should subscribe to BIOcycle Magazine and read up on Dr. Mark Jenner and Biotown if you haven't already heard about them. He writes the Biomass Rules website and is very astute on the subject of solid wastes and energy potential. Check out http://biowaste.blogspot.com/2007/04/biowaste-101-biotown-sourcebook.html for a start.