Update on new data on ethanol production and policy to support research in the United States


SRI Consulting (SRIC) released its 2009 report entitled "Global Ethanol 2009 Report". The main conclusions relate to forecast the consumption of bioethanol with a U.S. demand that is expected to grow annually by 9.3% over the next 5 years. The United States is currently the biggest consumers of bioethanol with nearly 50% of the use of global supply. These data should help clarify the positioning of the industry and its prospects for development in an evolutionary context. The principal author of the report, Eric LINAK, confirms that the new challenge for the biofuel industry will be largely linked to the capacity of production and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. As for the price of raw materials, the report states that concerns over the impact of increased ethanol production is less, the price of corn fell significantly in early 2009.

The U.S. government has implemented a policy strongly supported the development of biofuels, the new Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is committed to the Senate to promote renewable energy and biofuels in particular through the instruments and programs brought by his department. Since 2007, the USDA has an annual budget of 1.6 billion dollars for research on biofuels, with 210 million since 2008 dedicated to research on cellulosic ethanol. Under this plan, the Department of Energy (DoE) award, by 2012, one billion dollars to private companies investing in research and development on biofuels as well as in the construction of production plants cellulosic ethanol.

On 6 May, Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy has announced a 786 million to accelerate progress in R & D and provide additional funds to complete the different phases related to the commercialization of biofuels . These grants will enable the financing of new projects while providing additional funds for ongoing programs. They aim in the four priority areas:
  • 480 million for pilot projects of bio refineries operational within the next three years.
  • $ 176 million for projects to optimize the marketing of biofuels.
  • 110 million for basic research programs ranging from new sources of biomass to sustainability of energy resources. The objective is to create a consortium of advanced research to develop new technologies and infrastructure consistent with the production of biofuels. A priority for the development of biofuels from algae.
  • $ 20 million for research on the optimization of flex-fuel vehicles running on E85 (impact on increasing the proportion of ethanol in mixtures ...).

Meanwhile, the research department of the U.S. Department of Defense (DARPA) is also part of the drive to reduce energy dependence and its environmental footprint during military missions. The announcement has been made on 13 May, the development of a biofuel for jet engines, produced from residues of ethanol production, which would also be "efficient" than fuel currently used.

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