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Advanced Biofuels to Constitute 10% Global Gasoline Production Within The Next 10 Years

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image Global production capacity of ethanol derived from cellulose is estimated to reach about 254 million gallons in 2014

Advanced biofuels generated from agricultural waste could constitute up to 10 percent of global gasoline production within the next 10 years, the head of Denmark-based enzyme manufacturer Novozymes has said.

Advanced biofuels generated from agricultural waste could constitute up to 10 percent of global gasoline production within the next 10 years, the head of Denmark-based enzyme manufacturer Novozymes has said.

"If you give the second generation of biofuels 10 years, I believe that we will see production of 10 percent of global gasoline coming from second generation bio-ethanol," Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard told Xinhua in an interview here on Monday.

Developing these biofuels could help create "millions of jobs and a lot of wealth in many agricultural countries," he added.

The first generation of biofuels used food crops such as wheat and corn, as feedstock for production of biofuel. This meant agricultural land was used to grow crops which ended up in fuel tanks, rather than to produce food, raising the specter of food insecurity in some developing countries.

The second generation or advanced biofuels use biomass or agricultural wastes such as corn leaves, stalks and cobs, wheat stalks, straw, as well as municipal waste such as discarded paper, as input for biofuel production.

"Now we are not talking about food or fuel, instead, we are talking about food and fuel," Riisgaard said.

It is reported that using 17.5 percent of agricultural residue available today as feedstock for biofuel production, could generate as much advanced biofuels as needed to replace over 50 percent of forecast gasoline demand in 2030.

"This could have a big, big impact," Riisgaard said.

The report added that advanced biofuels could create 1.4 million jobs in the United States, some 1.25 million jobs in Brazil, and up to 2.9 million jobs in China.

The impact on climate and environment is also beneficial, as second generation biofuels emit up to 80 percent less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

Riisgaard said the abundance of agricultural wastes, as opposed to dwindling oil reserves whose price keeps rising, could make advanced biofuels central to addressing future global energy security needs.

The big markets for advanced biofuels would be countries where there is established, large scale agricultural production such as the United States, Brazil, China, India, and the EU countries, he added.

Barriers to utilization of agricultural waste for advanced biofuels include supply of feedstock, high capital costs, and an enabling political framework which incentivizes investment in the sector, the report said.

COMPETING ON PRICE

Advanced biofuels are produced from the cellulose found in biomass and the biodegradable part of household waste. After pulping this biomass, enzymes are added to turn the pulp into sugars used to produce alcohol that can be fermented into fuels, which are blended with gasoline to power cars, buses and other motor vehicles.

Riisgaard is confident that technological developments mean advanced biofuels can eventually compete on price alongside conventional gasoline.

In February, Novozymes unveiled its latest enzyme product, known as Cellic CTec3, which enables cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol.

The company says the product will allow biofuel makers to use just one-fifth of the enzyme dose compared to other enzymes on the market, for producing a similar amount of biofuel. Therefore, cost of producing ethanol from biomass will approach the cost level for corn ethanol (first generation biofuel) and gasoline, the company added.

In 2012, the company will supply enzymes to advanced biofuel plants operated by Italy's M&G Group, and the US's Fiberight. M&G's biofuel facility in northern Italy is expected to produce 13 million gallons of ethanol per year from wheat straw and energy crops, while Fiberight's plants in Virginia and Iowa will convert municipal solid waste into biofuel.

"Based on the experiences from these factories, we expect a second wave (of production facilities) that will probably only be ready in 2014," Riisgaard said.

Global production capacity of ethanol derived from cellulose is estimated to reach about 254 million gallons in 2014, and up to 93 billion gallons by 2030, Novozymes said.

Novozymes currently holds 47 percent of the global industrial enzyme market, which was valued at around 3.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.

The company itself made sales of around 1.9 billion dollars, in 2011, with household care enzymes, used in products such as detergents, accounting for 31 percent of its business. That was followed by food and beverage enzymes, and bioenergy enzymes, which constitute 29 percent and 19 percent of its business, respectively.

However, Riisgaard said that "given the big prospects for second generation biofuels in five or six years, I would expect that fuel enzymes would be more important," and that its bioenergy business will "grow much faster," in the medium term.

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