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biofuels production from lignocellulosic biomass. However, many research units
have been built to investigate the mechanism, kinetics, and economical feasibility
of biofuel production via syngas from biomass gasification.
2.2 Limitation of Mainstream Agricultural Crops for Biofuels
In recent years, fuel ethanol production has been revived for use in gasoline trans-
port fuel markets. The main driver for fuel ethanol expansion use has been the
need for a gasoline oxygenate, following the issues that were uncovered concern-
ing the previous widespread petroleum industry oxygenate, methyl tert -butyl ether
(MTBE). Ethanol is biologically safer, biodegradeable, renewable, and carries 88%
more oxygen than MTBE (especially useful in the higher compression modern gaso-
line engines). A secondary, but nonetheless important, driver for ethanol expansion
has been to reduce dependence on foreign oil for those countries that import large
volumes of crude oil. The success of ethanol to-date has relied on the harvested por-
tions of mainstream agricultural crops, where modern-technology yield increases
have allowed increasing harvest volumes [17].
The global production of crop-based renewable ethanol is projected at around
20 billion gallons (77 B liters) for 2008. Figure 1 shows the breakdown by country
and main feedstock. In Brazil, fuel ethanol displaces
20-50% of the transporta-
tion petroleum gasoline, with the volume depending on the world price of sugar.
Projections are for additional areas to be planted with sugarcane to meet the demand
for sugar and fuel, and there are plans to utilize more biotechnology to increase
Fig. 1 Estimates of fuel ethanol for 2008, based on production year-to-date and data sourced from
the Renewable Fuel Association, USDA-FAS, and StrathKirn Inc.; RoW - Rest of the world
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