FROM BARLEY TO BIOMASS - THE DEVELOPMENT OF A REGIONAL MULTI-FEEDSTOCK BIOREFINERY
Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products
Title: Winter barley ethanol - a new advanced biofuel
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2010
Publication Date: August 25, 2010
Citation: Hicks, K.B., Nghiem, N.P., Johnston, D., Moreau, R.A., Mcaloon, A.J., Boateng, A.A., Mullen, C.A., Yee, W.C., Kurantz, M.J. 2010. Winter barley ethanol - a new advanced biofuel. In Rausch, K., Singh, V., Tumbleson, M. (editors). Proceedings of the S-1041 Symposium on "Conversion Technologies for Biofuels", August 2-3, 2010, Wyndmoor, PA. p.54-58.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 set an ambitious goal for the United States to annually produce and use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. Of this quantity, only 15 billion gallons may come from conventional sources, such as corn ethanol, and the remainder must be made up of “advanced” and “cellulosic” biofuels. The Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2) of 2010 sets rules for defining the Life Cycle Green House Gas (LCGHG) emission requirements for all classes of biofuels, and it contains a controversial rule that penalizes conventional fuel ethanol from corn by assessing additional GHG emission penalties for un-measurable “indirect land use changes” as well as those resulting from direct land use. Some advanced biofuels pathways have been defined in the RFS 2 but new pathways can be developed for new advanced biofuel products as long as both direct and indirect LCGHG emissions are 50% (advanced) or 60% (cellulosic) less that emissions from conventional gasoline. The EISA requires increasing amounts of both conventional and advanced biofuels each year as we approach 2022. Reaching the cap of 15 billion gallons per year of corn ethanol will probably not be an issue. In fact, at this writing, the US already has enough capacity to produce nearly this amount on an annual basis. However, reaching the goals for cellulosic and advanced biofuels for the current year has already become a challenge. This article proposes that across the United States, there are possibilities for much more easily-convertible feedstocks than lignocellulose to produce renewable biofuels that meet EPA’s requirements for advanced biofuels. For the Mid Atlantic States, a model feedstock candidate is winter barley and the fuel is winter barley ethanol. Winter barley can be grown in the Mid Atlantic States from Southern Pennsylvania through North Carolina. The mild winters allow the growth of an additional crop, winter barley, on winter fallow ground that would not be in use otherwise. The planting of winter barley occurs after harvest of corn in year 1 and harvest occurs before planting of soybeans in year 2 and does not interfere with production of a full yield of both summer crops. This additional crop is very important for regional farmers who need additional farm income. This use of barley as a winter cover crop has been hailed by the Chesapeake Bay Commission (2007, 2008) as a preferred way to prevent nutrients and sediment from migrating from fallow winter fields into the Chesapeake Bay and therefore has a beneficial environmental impact. Finally, production of winter barley by regional farmers can produce, for the first time, a regional feedstock for the production of fuel ethanol and high protein animal feeds. This article describes the 10 year research activities at the ERRC/ARS/USDA and with its research partners to develop new winter energy barley varieties and to develop new conversion technologies to convert winter barley into fuel ethanol and high valued coproducts. The culmination of this work is the building of the country’s first winter barley ethanol plant in Hopewell Virginia that is set to open in November of 2010.