WASHINGTON, September 6, 2017 - A growing list of companies are signing on to new technology designed to turn waste into fuel aiming to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber, according to a press release from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. The innovation, named 1.5 gen, can be used at existing ethanol plants to reap up to 2 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol from existing corn feedstocks, EESI says.

By removing the outer coating of the corn kernel to convert it to ethanol, facilities could produce an additional 10 percent of ethanol and up to 50 percent more corn oil. The Environmental Protection Agency considers the corn fiber an agricultural waste, classified as cellulosic feedstock. The use of the kernel reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) by 60 percent, allowing producers to collect incentives offered by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard through its use.

Ethanol producer D3MAX is the latest to sign up to use 1.5 gen technology, joining DuPont, Novozymes, Edeniq, ICM and Syngenta. Edeniq reports that even the lower-yield, enzyme-additive process they use can increase profits by $7 million a year for its ethanol plant which currently produces 120 million gallons annually. Ethanol producers using the bolt-on technology, which removes the kernel first, experience a much higher cellulosic ethanol yield.

The process has been in use since 2016 at several plants and has proven quite successful. Thus, producers are confused as to why the EPA has determined cellulosic ethanol production will underperform in the 2018 RFS proposal. The EPA has proposed reducing cellulosic fuel volumes from 311 million gallons to 238 million gallons.

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