1. What is bioethanol and what is it used for?
Bioethanol is ethanol that has been manufactured from an organic feedstock (biomass). The bioethanol will mostly be blended into gasoline as a renewable transport fuel component. Bioethanol for fuel is available in blends such as E5, E10, and E85. The E stands for Ethanol and the number is the percentage of bioethanol in the blend. Hence, E85 is composed of 85% bioethanol and 15% gasoline (petrol). The market for biofuels, such as bioethanol, is growing rapidly around the world, driven by legislation, as nations seek to combat climate change, reduce their dependency on fossil fuels for road transport and create increased security of energy supply. Bioethanol can also be used as a renewable chemical intermediate, for example, for the manufacture of renewable ethylene and hence bio-polyethylene.
2. How does bioethanol reduce CO2 emissions?
Plants grow through a process called photosynthesis. They harness energy from the sun to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and water from the soil to lay down biomass. When the biomass is used to make bioethanol and the bioethanol is burned as a fuel, the CO2 is simply returned to the atmosphere. However, if fossil fuels are used in the production and transport of the crops and in the production of the bioethanol, then the greenhouse gas savings over the life cycle of the biofuel will be reduced.
3. What greenhouse gas savings are typically delivered from bioethanol today?
The recently published Gallagher review shows that bioethanol produced today delivers savings of up to 70% compared to gasoline. The best performing bioethanol is sugar cane ethanol from Brazil. However, the review also shows that some bioethanol production does not deliver any savings compared to gasoline (petrol).
4. What greenhouse gas savings are expected from the INEOS Bio Ethanol?
The bioethanol produced from the INEOS Bio process using waste biomass feed materials is expected to deliver at least 90% lower net emissions of CO2 than burning petrol gasoline (petrol). Hence, using the clean, renewable INEOS Bio Ethanol will emit 90% lower greenhouse gases than burning gasoline (petrol) in your car.
5. Where is most bioethanol produced today and how is it made?
Bioethanol is manufactured all around the World from sugar and starch crops using long-established technologies. Brazil and North America are the World’s largest producers of bioethanol today. Brazil manufactures bioethanol predominately from sugar cane and North America manufactures bioethanol predominately from corn, a starch crop. Other crops can also be used such as wheat and sugar beet. In the case of corn, the starch is first extracted from the crop and then converted to sugars. The sugars are then fermented to an ethanol solution by enzymes. The solution is finally concentrated to hydrous ethanol (96% purity) or anhydrous ethanol (99.7% purity).
6. What impact will the INEOS Bio process have on recycling?
The INEOS Bio process is fully compatible with high recycling rates. We fully support the recycling agenda. Recyclable materials will be extracted from the waste streams in the most appropriate way. Organic wastes will also be extracted and treated in the most appropriate way.
7. How big is the global bioethanol market potential?
Very large. FlexFuel vehicles have been designed to run on either petrol gasoline (petrol) or ethanol (up to 100% concentration). The majority of new vehicles bought in Brazil are FlexFuel vehicles because ethanol made from sugar cane in Brazil is cost-competitive with gasoline (petrol). The bottleneck for bioethanol growth outside of Brazil is not the lack of a market demand but the lack of supply of sustainable, cost-competitive bioethanol. In order to stimulate growth in the biofuels markets, the USA and Europe have introduced biofuel usage targets going forwards.
8. What are the biofuel targets in Europe and the USA?
The targets are: 5% biofuel use by 2010 and 10% by 2020 in Europe, and 36 billion gallons of biofuel use annually by 2022 in the USA, of which 21 billion gallons must be from second generation technologies. However, these targets are subject to revision, and the Gallagher review, for example, recommends a slower increase in biofuel targets in Europe than is currently planned.
9. What is the Gallagher Review and what does it say?
Biofuels have been proposed as a solution to several pressing global concerns: energy security, climate change and rural development. This led to the European Union agreeing the Biofuels Directive and the setting of targets for biofuels use going forwards. Five years later, there is growing concern about the role of biofuels in rising food prices, negative effects from changing land use, and doubts about the climate benefits. This has led to serious questions about their sustainability and extensive campaigns against higher targets. The Gallagher review was commissioned by the independent UK Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) for the UK Government in response to these concerns. The RFA proposes that the current RTFO target for 2008/09 (2.5% by volume) should be retained, but the proposed rate of increase in biofuels be reduced to 0.5% (by volume) per annum rising to a maximum of 5% by volume by 2013/14. This compares with the RTFO's current target trajectory of 5% by 2010. It recommends that targets higher than 5% by volume (4% by energy) should only be implemented beyond 2013/14 if biofuels are shown to be demonstrably sustainable (including avoiding indirect land-use change). Based on current judgment, it proposes targets for renewable transport fuels of between 5% and 8% (by energy) for the EU for 2020 (including 1-2% from advanced technologies).
10. What is the INEOS Bio response to the Gallagher review?
The INEOS Bio process fully addresses all the concerns raised in the Gallagher review. The bioethanol produced from the INEOS Bio process will deliver 90% greenhouse gas savings compared to burning gasoline (petrol). This is better than any other bioethanol production today. The INEOS Bio Ethanol also does not require food crops and so the production of clean, renewable fuel can be separated from food production and prices. In addition, the INEOS Bio Ethanol does not compete for agriculture land use.
11. How much bioethanol is used today in the USA and in Europe?
The fuel (petrol) market in Europe is currently just over 100million tonnes and bioethanol usage is around 2.8 million tonnes (approaching 3%). In the USA the gasoline market is around 140 billion gallons and bioethanol usage is around 9 billion gallons in 2008 (around 6.5%). The vast majority of this bioethanol is sold in blends of up to 10% ethanol in gasoline (petrol) (E10), which can be used on unmodified vehicles. The number of service stations in Europe and the USA which sell E85 fuel (85% ethanol in gasoline (petrol)) is still very small (around 1% of service stations in the USA and less in Europe). Around 150million gallons of E85 was sold in the USA in 2007. The INEOS Bio process has the potential to produce cost-effective bioethanol, which does not use food crops, and does not use agricultural land.
12. What biomass feedstocks will the INEOS Bio process be using?
The attraction of the INEOS Bio process is that it can take wastes that people do not want and convert them into clean, liquid transport fuels that everyone wants. The INEOS Bio process is ‘feed flexible’ and we will be targeting a mixture of household wastes, commercial and industrial wastes, agricultural wastes and forestry wastes.
13. How much bioethanol does the INEOS Bio process produce from a tonne of waste?
The INEOS Bio process converts one metric tonne of dry, ash free biomass into about 400 litres (315kg) of bioethanol in a commercial process.
14. Most biomass is not dry. Can the INEOS Bio process use wet feeds?
The INEOS Bio process can efficiently dry biomass feeds to the desired water content using low-grade waste heat from the process. Very wet biomass such as animal slurries and some food waste may be best treated in an anaerobic digestion plant.
15. Will you be using waste plastics to make ethanol?
Our intention is to commercialise the INEOS Bio technology using a variety of biomass feeds to manufacture clean, renewable bioethanol fuel for the road transport sector. Our view is that plastics should be recycled wherever and whenever possible in the most sustainable way. However, waste biomass from households may contain a small amount of residual, contaminated plastic films and containers, which may not be economic to recycle. As our process can process plastics as well as biomass, it is most probably the best practical environmental option to leave this small amount of residual waste plastics in the biomass waste rather than use valuable energy and resources unnecessarily to remove them.