Next generation biofuels are made from plant waste or inedible plants, not corn. While promised for a long time now, progress towards commercially viable next generation biofuel has been slow.
But there’s been some good progress so far this year. Recently, biofuel company KiOR announced that it has started shipping cellulosic diesel fuel from its factory in Columbus, Mississippi. KiOR makes its biofuel out of wood chips, and expects to be able to produce 3 to 5 million gallons of biofuel this year.
Last week ZeaChem said that it had started making cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at its demonstration factory in Boardman, Oregon. And DuPont has started construction on a 30 million gallon cellulosic ethanol factory in Nevada, Iowa which will make biofuel from corn stalks and leaves.
While the cost of these next generation biofuels is still significantly higher than biofuel made from ethanol, as much as 40 percent higher, the cost is expected to decrease sharply over the next couple of years. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2016 should be the year where the cost of these next generation biofuels will match that of corn based biofuel.