This year begins the ninth year of cellulosic ethanol mandates in the U.S. Today I want to give a brief review of cellulosic ethanol, review the original targets, and examine the current status of the industry. What is Cellulosic Ethanol? Conventional ethanol production utilizes a fermentation process to convert starches or simple sugars to ethanol. The vast majority of the world’s ethanol is produced from either corn or sugarcane. Cellulose is an important structural material for plants, and it is made up of many repeating sugar units. These repeating sugar units can be broken down by various processes into the component sugars, which can then be fermented into ethanol. The process of breaking down cellulose into sugars was discovered in France in the 1800’s, and cellulosic ethanol production was first commercialized in Germany in 1898. Commercialization in the U.S. followed in 1910, but the process was ultimately abandoned almost […]