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Technology to Make Ethanol from Municipal Waste Still on Hold

As ethanol from corn comes under fire due to rising corn prices, attention is turning to other ethanol sources. Plans are in the works to build a plant in northwest Indiana which would make ethanol from municipal waste. Approval of the plant was announced by the Lake County Solid Waste Management Board in January 2007.

And Chicago’s WBEZ reported this week that Indiana Ethanol Power is now ready to go with its plan. The technology, developed by James Titmas at GeneSyst, would produce 20 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol and other products each year.

According to Biofuels Digest, several cities, including New York, NY and Bridgeton, NJ, are on the verge of implementing such plants. Diverting municipal waste from landfills to make fuel-grade ethanol sounds like a win-win for everyone. And locating ethanol refineries near cities makes sense, because that’s where the mounds of garbage are. So what’s the holdup in Indiana? According to Indiana Ethanol Power’s Zig Resiak:

“Municipalities are very comfortable with putting it in the back of a truck and letting it go into a landfill. They don’t think about it twice. But for us to come in and say we’re going to take it cheaper and save you millions of dollars a year on your tipping fee, that’s different and that’s kind of scary, and they want to take a good, strong look at that.”

Sounds like a leadership vacuum. We hope that Indiana and Illinois (and Chicago and Gary) can get it together and follow the example of Edmonton, CA which just signed an agreement to begin production. The plant will initially produce 36 million litres of biofuels per year and reduce Alberta’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 6 million tons over the next 25 years, which is the equivalent of removing 12,000 cars from the road.

Related Posts:

New Carbon-Negative Community Loves their Waste

First Sustainable Ethanol to Mass Market?


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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.


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