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“Ethanol…..and Beyond” Food and Inflation: Truth & Consequences GIC and University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business Memphis, Tennessee February 8, 2012

The Challenge of Replacing Fossil Feedstocks

3 barrels of oil produces the energy equivalent of one human worklife.*

*Source: Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, US DOE 1 Bbl oil = 5,800,000 BTU’s 1 Bbl oil = 23,200 hours human work

The Petrochemical Economy Source: DOE/USDA Top Value-Added Chemicals Vol. I, 2004


Natural Gas

Fossil Feedstocks are Finite Resources Feedstock

Renewal time

Oil gas, coal (Fossil)

200 million years


5-80+ years


1-5 years


1 year

Agricultural Crops

3 months – 1 year


1 Month

Source: Amidon, Tom, et al. Industrial Biotechnology, 2(2):113-120, 2006

What can replace Fossil Feedstocks? Major Biomass Feedstocks Feedstock Oils Starch Sugar Lignocellulose

Key Chemical Component(s) Plant oils: triglycerides Sugar polymers (polysaccharides) Sucrose, glucose, fructose Lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose

Crop Examples Soybeans, Canola, Sunflowers, Algae Corn, Barley, Grain sorghum Sweet sorghum, sugar beets, sugar cane Wood, crop residues, switchgrass

Source: Regional Strategy for Biobased Products in the Mississippi Delta (Battelle 2009) Memphis Bioworks Foundation, report at

The Bioeconomy Source: DOE/USDA Top Value-Added Chemicals Vol. I, 2004

Sugar is the “New Oil� Novel fermentation technologies moving to commercialization

Leading Chemicals from Sugar Bioisoprene, Butadiene


Genencor/Goodyear, Amyris/Michelin

DuPont/Tate & Lyle (Loudon, TN)

Ethylene Glycol Coca-Cola “Plant Bottle”

Succinic Acid Myriant (Lake Providence, LA) BioAmber/Mitsui, DSM/Roquette, BASF/Purac

Butanol, Isobutanol Gevo (Silsbee, TX), Cobalt BP/DuPont, Tetravitae/Eastman

BioDimensions is developing Industrial Sugar Crops • Sweet Sorghum – – – –

Single crop per year in TN 4 month season w/ hybrids Rotation w/ winter wheat Low inputs, drought tolerant

Sweet sorghum harvesting, Whiteville, TN, 2011

• Sugarbeets – – – –

Winter crop option in mid-South Storage for off-season processing Successful introduction & trials Sugar yield equal to sorghum

Sugarbeets, Whiteville, TN, 2010

Sweet Sorghum as a Biorefinery Feedstock Component


Possible Downstream Products


C6 Sugars

Fuels, chemicals, spirits



Feed, cellulosic sugars/fuels, fuel pellets, materials



Specialty feeds, sugar products

Some Parting Thoughts • Fossil feedstocks have a huge advantage for liquid fuel & chemicals production • Ultimately fossil feedstocks are finite & cause other problems • Development of alternative sustainable feedstocks takes time and money (think decades and Trillions) • First generation technologies are always flawed • New technologies and products must ultimately be tested and improved in the marketplace, not the laboratory

BioDimensions pilot-scale Biorefinery; Whiteville, TN

Thank You!

Ethanol...and Beyond  

Presentation at GIC and University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business Food and Inflation Conference