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Enzymatic fermentation without CCUS (lignocellulosic bioethanol)

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Technology Description

Lignocellulosic ethanol via enzymatic fermentation is an advanced (second generation) biofuel where lignocellulosic biomass is broken down into sugars via enzymatic hydrolysis. From there, the fermentation process to produce ethanol is the same as conventional (first generation) ethanol production. Though more expensive than conventional ethanol, lignocellulosic ethanol uses a biomass feedstock that is considered residue and therefore does not have direct competition with food resources. Like conventional ethanol, its drawbacks are ethanol blend limits with gasoline (15% for use in gasoline engines, 85% for use in flex fuel vehicles, and 95% for use in compression ignition engines).

Relevance for Net Zero

Lignocellulosic ethanol without carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an important bridging biofuel, as it displaces sugar/starch ethanol produced from unsustainable feedstock while allowing learning and development so that lignocellulosic ethanol with CCS can be deployed. However, other biofuels routes such as biomass-to-liquid (BtL) can use the same biomass feedstock but produce drop-in fuels with no upper blend limits. Additionally, a significant portion of road transport is electrified.

Key Countries

Brazil, United States, Europe

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