Thursday, October 15, 2009

Co-Production of High Value Chemicals from Maize

Maize bio-ethanol production is growing ever more sophisticated by the year. Not only are maize ethanol producers producing more ethanol using less water and less fossil fuels, they are also producing side products that improve the financial bottom line significantly. Most readers know about dry distillers grain (DDG) which is what remains of the grain after distillation and drying. DDGs are sold to livestock producers as high value feed. But a newer, more expensive by-product of maize ethanol production has been developed by POET.
A new ethanol co-product could replace more petroleum products such plastics, film and coatings.

POET has announced the new product, called “Inviz,” which the company says could be used to make a variety of petroleum-based ingredients in household products ranging from pill coatings to plastic packaging. _DomesticFuel
More information directly from POET via Domestic Fuel.

As the market for plastics and chemicals from biomass grows, the financial viability of the biomass industry will be improved.

The greatest weakness of biomass in the long run is the low energy density of most biomass feedstocks. Investment into technologies that convert biomass into liquid and gaseous fuels is booming. But a great deal of money will be made by local and regional entrepreneurs, farmers, bankers, and technologists who can find ways of efficiently harvesting, densifying, and pre-processing biomass for further refinement and processing at more central locations.

The big companies such as ADM will try to grab up as much of this local and regional production as they can -- just as they have consolidated farm production. But as in any new industry, there is plenty of room on the ground floor.

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