Innovation: Ethanol is more than just a fuel

Innovative biorefineries process European agricultural feedstock (crops, wastes, residues) into renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from road transport; high-protein, GMO-free animal feed that reduces the need for imported soybean meal; and captured CO2 for use in e.g. beverage and food applications. That makes the renewable ethanol industry a vital asset in Europe’s efforts to decarbonise transport, boost growth and jobs, and achieve greater resource efficiency under the EU Green Deal agenda.

Innovating, and improving

European ethanol plants are true biorefineries, converting multiple inputs into multiple outputs. These are not limited to renewable ethanol, but also include the production of much-needed GMO-free animal feed and biogenic carbon dioxide.

Similarly, the spread of best practice and constant innovation allow for the minimisation of waste. In many cases our plants pursue closed-loop production systems using, for example, waste biomass to generate green electricity and heat for direct use in ethanol production plants. Water use is also is kept to a minimum, recycled and/or treated before discharge.

Advanced biofuels

Advanced ethanol, such as cellulosic ethanol, is a renewable fuel that further optimises resource efficiency by using waste and residue material, such as straw. In Europe, cellulosic ethanol can also be produced from dedicated energy crops such as miscanthus and switch grass. Ligno-cellulosic ethanol could be produced in dedicated plants, or could even be co-produced with conventional biofuels, creating a synergy that would maximise the benefits of the two pathways.

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