Fuel Ethanol from Cellulosic Biomass

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Science  15 Mar 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4999, pp. 1318-1323
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4999.1318


Ethanol produced from cellulosic biomass is examined as a large-scale transportation fuel. Desirable features include ethanol's fuel properties as well as benefits with respect to urban air quality, global climate change, balance of trade, and energy security. Energy balance, feedstock supply, and environmental impact considerations are not seen as significant barriers to the widespread use of fuel ethanol derived from cellulosic biomass. Conversion economics is the key obstacle to be overcome. In light of past progress and future prospects for research-driven improvements, a cost-competitive process appears possible in a decade.