Friday, April 25, 2008

Steam Explosions in Toledo

Cauffiel Technologies of Toledo, Ohio, manufactures heavy metalworking machinery. They also think they have a good solution for making fuels from cellulose--cheaply. It involves something they call a "steam explosion", which unlocks the sugars in cellulose for conversion into alcohols such as ethanol and butanol.
“Super bugs can be dangerous and must be confined,” said Cauffiel, who has developed a method known as steam explosion. The steam explosion will speed up the process of breaking down cellulosic material by helping super bugs digest material faster.

Heating the material up to 500 degrees at 500 pounds per square inch on a continuous basis causes the material to explode out of the machine and into a flash tank. The exploded material consisting of C5 and C6 sugars and lignin will be ready for the super bugs to digest easier.

“Once you have a good steam explosion, you can convert the C5 and C6 sugars into ethanol or butanol,” Cauffiel said. “Many scientists and universities around the country have heard about us, and we have received many phone calls about it.”

Because all plant life and wood products burn, the remains from the steam-explosion process can fuel the boiler to make steam and heat the tanks for super bugs with little or no additional energy required. That is a big problem when making ethanol from corn, Cauffiel said.

The challenge is to design and build machinery that will withstand the continuous high pressure and temperatures required for the process. With 55 years of experience designing and manufacturing steel-making processes and machinery, Cauffiel said he is confident his company has the solution. __ToledoFreePress __via_Check
Here is some more information on the world maize market. It seems that the consumption of meat in China has literally exploded recently. In fact Chinese meat consumption has more to do with the price of corn than biofuels.
The change in Chinese meat consumption habits since 1995 is diverting 8.0 billion bushels of grain to livestock feed — more than the entire 2.3 billion bushel harvest used to make US ethanol...China is consuming four times as much additional grain, since 1995, as the US ethanol industry, and demand is increasing by 615 million bushels per year. Even if the US ethanol industry were to go away overnight, in less than 4 years, China’s rising grain demand would wipe out the savings.
Policymakers have also cited to food riots in Mexico over rising tortilla prices as evidence of a distortion in the markets caused by ethanol’s demand for corn. __BiofuelsDigest
Maize ethanol is already obsolete. But with corn prices rising due to increasing meat consumption in the third world, maize ethanol is being priced out of the market ever more quickly.

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