Definition: Cellulosic ethanol
An advanced type of biofuel that is produced by breaking down and using the cellulose compound found in trees and grasses.
- Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol (ethyl alcohol) produced from cellulose (the stringy fiber of a plant) rather than from the plant's seeds or fruit. It is a biofuel produced from grasses, wood, algae, or other plants. The fibrous parts of the plants are mostly inedible to animals, including humans, except for ruminants (grazing, cud-chewing animals such as cows or sheep).Considerable interest in cellulosic ethanol exists because it has the potential for strong economic importance. Growth of cellulose by plants is a mechanism that captures and stores solar energy chemically in nontoxic ways with resultant supplies that are easy to transport and store. Additionally, transport may be unneeded anyway, because grasses or trees can grow almost anywhere temperate. This is why commercially practical cellulosic ethanol is widely viewed as a next level of development for the biofuel industry that could reduce demand for oil and gas drilling and even nuclear power in ways that grain-based ethanol fuel alone cannot. Potential exists for the many benefits of carbonaceous liquid fuels and petrochemicals (which today's standard of living depends on) but in a carbon cycle–balanced and renewable way (recycling surface and atmosphere carbon instead of pumping underground carbon up into it and thus adding to it). Commercially practical cellulosic alcohol could also avoid one of the problems with today's conventional (grain-based) biofuels, which is that they set up competition for grain with food purposes, potentially driving up the price of food. To date, what stands in the way of these goals is that production of cellulosic alcohol is not yet sufficiently practical on a commercial scale.
- An advanced type of biofuel that is produced by breaking down and using the cellulose compound found in trees and grasses.