Wheat-straw ethanol makes jump to pump

Customers buying regular gasoline over the next month at a Shell service station in Ottawa will be the first in the world to tank up with an E10 blend using ethanol made from wheat straw.

For a month starting Wednesday (June 10), the regular gasoline on offer at Shell’s station at 1548 Merivale Road will contain 10 per cent cellulosic ethanol made at Iogen Energy Corp.’s demonstration-scale plant, in which Shell is a partner.

Iogen’s demonstration plant at Ottawa currently makes about 40,000 litres of cellulosic ethanol per month.

“I am excited we are leading the pack in cellulosic ethanol production technology and, with this event, showing what is possible in the future,” Graeme Sweeney, Shell’s executive vice-president for future fuels, said at a media event in Ottawa Wednesday.

“While it will be some time before general customers can buy this product at local service stations, we are working with governments to make large-scale production economic.”

“Building a demo plant is one thing but you then need to go through the process of operating the new technology at scale, learning, modifying and lowering costs,” Iogen CEO Brian Foody said in the same release. “With the volumes we’re producing today, we’re confident about the future.”

“This one small retail station in Ottawa is one big step forward for advanced biofuels globally,” federal Transport Minister John Baird said at the Shell station announcement.

“This is a great day for Canadian technology and proof that Canada’s commitment to developing low-carbon dioxide fuels is starting to pay dividends for the environment, farmers and consumers.”

Iogen last week signed an agreement with Montreal paper processor Domtar to research the possible redevelopment of Domtar’s shuttered pulp mill at Prince Albert, Sask., as Iogen’s commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility, using locally-produced wheat straw.

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