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.
technorati BIOblog, BIOstock, biomass, agriculture, anaerobic digestion