Michigan Tech Part of Cellulosic Ethanol Milestone, US at Bottom of Sustainable List

For Oct. 10, 2014

 

1 – You may have heard of cellulosic ethanol, or biofuel made from trees and woody plants, instead of corn.

It’s been talked about for years, but progress has been slow. A Michigan University can now take credit for what’s being called a milestone.

Michigan Technological University in Houghton reports that the first commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol that meets federal standards have gone to market.

This is a big deal because U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuels Standard mandates that cellulosic ethanol be blended into gasoline for use in vehicles.

American Process Inc., an Atlanta-based company, is producing the cellulosic ethanol at a demonstration plant in Alpena.

The ethanol is being produced by converting the wastewater stream from a nearby hardboard panel plant into biofuel.

The process was developed with help from scientists and engineers at Michigan Tech, using funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the state of Michigan.

The company says this production is only a start; about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons, or half of each ethanol shipment, is qualified as cellulosic ethanol under EPA standards.

At full capacity, the biorefinery is designed to produce about 894,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually, using forest residue woodchips as a feedstock.

2 – People are more concerned about the environment these days, but the United States is at the bottom of the list when it comes to sustainable behavior.

greendex 2014 americans us
We’re 18th! Via the Greendex 2014 report.

A new global Greendex study released by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan finds that concern about environmental problems has increased in most countries surveyed.

For instance, more people now expect global warming will negatively affect them during their lifetime than in 2012.

Still, the study says sustainable consumer behavior related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods has only grown slowly.

Among the top findings this year:

  • Sixty-one percent of consumers globally say they are very concerned about environmental problems, 5 percent higher than in 2012.
  • Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012. But sustainable behavior has decreased among consumers in five countries: the United States, Canada, China, Germany, and Japan.
  • U.S. consumer behavior also still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study in 2008.
  • Top-scoring consumers in the 2014 study were in India and China, followed by consumers in South Korea, Brazil and Argentina.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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