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Environmental Concerns, Gas Prices Raise Interest in Cellulosic Ethanol

07 May 2012
University of Manitoba

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba says concerns over the environment and rising fuel costs are stimulating increased interest in the use of cellulosic ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.

Research aimed at harnessing bacteria to produce ethanol from waste cellulose is among the body of work featured in the Manitoba made film "Drive For Free: The Alternative Fuel Revolution".

Dr. David Levin, an associate professor in Biosystems Engineering with the University of Manitoba, says in light of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global climate change and the rising price of petroleum leading to increased gas prices, everyone recognizes the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Dr. David Levin, University of Manitoba says:

We've hit a very high gas price in the last month or so. Now it's going down but it will continue to go up and down on an upward trajectory.

They say that within a few years a barrel of oil might be back up to 150 dollars and that's going to affect everybody's ability to drive around with gas in their tank.

Reducing the dependence on gasoline means using a biofuel like ethanol to mix with the gasoline, either as a mix like five or ten percent ethanol or in Brazil they use 25 percent ethanol.

In fact in Brazil they have engines that are flexible and can use 100 percent ethanol one day or 100 percent gasoline the next day and everything else in between depending on what's available so that helps a lot so making ethanol is important as a way of reducing our dependence on gasoline.

Also when you mix it with gasoline it increases the octane level and it combusts more cleanly so it produces less pollutants, less carbon dioxide, less nitrous oxides and sulfur oxides so it's good for the environment.

Dr. Levin acknowledges cellulosic ethanol is not yet competitive with grain-based ethanol or petroleum-based fuels but he predicts as oil prices rise, the economic viability of cellulosic ethanol will become more realistic.

TheCropSite News Desk

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