View Full Version : Eucalyptus Ethanol !!!

W123 x 2
14th May 2007, 06:19 PM
This is an interesting read with many serious implications. Secrecy, GM, invasive species, habitat destroying, etc. etc. Damn, we should be growing these in Australia!

Biofuels News
May 10, 2007 Can eucalyptus run a car? Trial seeks to find out By Ben Raines MOBILE, Ala. — Genetically modified eucalyptus trees are growing in the sandy soil of Baldwin County, part of an experiment that aims to turn an Australian export best known as koala bear food into fuel for American motorists.
Altered in laboratories in New Zealand to withstand American caterpillars and tolerate colder temperatures than are found in their native down-under habitat, the trees have been growing on a secret one-acre plot in Baldwin County for two years.
Officials with ArborGen, a South Carolina-based company, declined to reveal the exact location of the modified trees, citing "security reasons." Baldwin County is on the Gulf Coast between Mobile County and the Florida Panhandle.
Genetically engineered crops, such as the eucalyptus, are under fire from scientists and environmentalists, who fear that the plants can escape from farms and wreak havoc on native plant populations.
Federal officials have just published an environmental assessment of the ArborGen project, which is out for public comment until May 21. At the end of the comment period, the government will decide whether to permit further experiments with the eucalyptus in Baldwin County.
Eucalyptus, according to an ArborGen spokesman, is better than Midwestern corn for producing ethanol because, he said, the trees require a fraction of the energy to raise and harvest.
Congress spent the last week developing a major legislative package to promote ethanol, with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee calling for the nation to produce 36 billion gallons of the biofuel per year by 2022.
Currently, corn drives ethanol production in the U.S., but corn is a labor-intensive crop that scientists say requires nearly as much energy to grow as it produces in the form of ethanol.
By contrast, eucalyptus trees would produce 8 gallons of ethanol for every gallon of gas or diesel used to farm and process them, according to ArborGen.
The company is now seeking a permit to allow the trees to mature, flower and produce seeds. All of that was specifically forbidden under the original permit, which granted ArborGen permission to simply grow the trees and test them for cold tolerance.
In California, eucalyptus has long been recognized as a noxious invasive species, displacing native habitats, disrupting water supplies and playing a significant role in worsening wildfires. Eucalyptus contains large quantities of a highly flammable oil.
"This is a tree you can grow in plantation settings. It can be farmed as an energy crop. It provides a new crop for the South, where the logging infrastructure is already in place from pine production," said Glenn Ray, with ArborGen. "We've done studies that show with [eucalyptus], the South could be self-sustaining for ethanol production.
"The president is talking about replacing 30 percent of the gasoline with ethanol. The Midwestern states have corn and wheat. Down here, we don't grow those, but the Southeast can help with these trees."
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

19th May 2007, 01:34 AM
The Brazilian Government recently licenced the growth of GM Eucalyptus for biofuels (http://www.icis.com/blogs/biofuels/archives/2007/04/brazil-deregulates-transgenic.html).:eek: I'm not clear how they are to be GM or whether the Brazilians plan to cut 'em down and burn 'em or convert them into gasoline.

20th May 2007, 02:22 PM
This is an interesting read with many serious implications. Secrecy, GM, invasive species, habitat destroying, etc. etc. Damn, we should be growing these in Australia!

We are halfway there already...


Alcohol (methanol or ethanol) from wood is by far the most promising option and state of the art pilot plants are needed in every State to perfect technology to utilise the best option woods available. Wood such as E. globulus and P .radiata grown in plantations in high rainfall (>700mm) steep country currently only useful for grazing, can easily produce in the order of 15 30 tonnes of biomass per hectare per year from which 5,000- 10,000 litres per ha per year of alcohol should be extractable on a sustainable basis. Species such as oil mallee Eucalyptus, Casuarina and Grevillea sp have been shown by Dept CALM in WA to have sustainable wood production potential (albeit in the range 1-5 tonnes per ha per year) in the 300 500 mm rainfall wheat belt areas. (See press release, Appendix). Such wood production from local species has the added benefit of being sustainable in terms of reducing soil loss, being drought proof, lowering saline water tables and providing greenhouse sinks. Oil mallees are already being grown in belts the WA wheatbelt to feed a pilot charcoal-eucalyptus oil- electricity generation co-production plant near Narrogin. As yet there is no pilot plant to produce ethanol form wood in WA. However, the Carter Holt MDF plant at Oberon NSW produces formaldehyde resin from alcohol and their process may be a good starting point for investigation.

5th May 2008, 01:43 PM
Genetically modified eucalyptus may only be a method of obtaining a patent as both eucalyptus and malalucia grow well in California and Florida and are responsible for many forest fires. Compared notes with a Californian who was complaining about Australian trees while I was complaining about Pinus Radiata the Monterey pine.
This sort of makes me wonder why we cannot do something the Pinus Radiata. Must be someway of turning the turps into a fuel for an internal combustion engine.
Eucalyptus oil does go bang. Found this out when my wife poured a small amount on the sauna at Waves and blew the sauna up.

Tony From West Oz
5th May 2008, 11:16 PM
In a paper by Hongwei Wu in ~2004, (IIRC, I have a copy somewhere on my PC), he was able to demonstrate that eucalyptus trees can produce these high EROEI figures when planted as hedgerows alongside traditional agriculture. The trees are coppiced to harvest the wood and leaves, and they re-grow from the roots.
This is not new and there is no need to have GM Eucalyptus trees for this to work.

It does not use the eucalyptus oil as fuel, but the oil can be used to promote blending of hydrous ethanol with petrol, as it provides co-solvent properties to both the hyrdrous ethanol and the petrol, reducing the cost of ethenol production & blending.


6th May 2008, 12:49 AM
Great stuff that eucalyptus, it seems to grow faster then I can get to it with my bulldozer :eek: ......................:D

6th May 2008, 01:01 AM
I'm personally in favour of it. If you feel sick from the flu drive to work and your nose will be clear when you get there. Cool hey. and its sooooo aussie which is even better.:D

29th June 2008, 05:14 PM
Hi All,
Been a while since I posted here. I'm in the business of turning CO2 into wood, and in particular, oily wood. Sandalwood to be precice. Now, transgenic trees are nothing new, and transgenic Eucalyptus trees have been around for a while. The main objective from an industry point of view is to remove lignin from wood so the paper pulping industry has to use less chemicals to bleach the fibre. in a paper by Wadenback et al (J. Wadenback, S.v. Arnold, U. Egertsdotter, M.H. Walter, J. Grima-Pettenati, D. Goffner, G. Gellerstedt, T. Gullion, D. Clapham, Transgenic Res. 17 (2008) 379-392.) they managed to decrease lignin production by 8 or 9 percent (statistically significant).

Trouble with biofuel is, if you want to burn wood for heat, you got it right there. But if you want to make cellulosic ethanol, you need some amazing cellulases which are inherently slow working. Nature chose cellulose as it's structural material for a very good reason - nothing eats it! (Well not quickly anyway).

However, on the subject of turpentine from trees, these hydrocarbons are a highly reduced form of carbon, meaning it's energy density is considerably higher than sugars like cellulose. Anything which can turn sunlight into terpene must have good growing conditions as it takes about 3 grams of glucose to make one gram of terpinene (J. Gershenzon, J. Chem. Ecol. 20 (1994) 1281-1328.)

Transgenics might just be a way of exploiting good conditions... I'm all in favour of GM, and I call myself a tree-hugging hippie. Watch this space I say...


29th June 2008, 05:28 PM
Oh, another good reference on metabolic engineering of bacteria is this paper : Nature Biotechnology (2008) vol. 26 pp 169-172. It's a good summary and full of great references. There is some great work mentioned also on engineering E. coli and the like to produce isopropanol, butanol and n-propanol from key steps in the citric acid cycle. I'm trying to find that ref now...

16th December 2009, 01:04 PM
G'day Mates:
There is amazing work going on in USA concerning Butanol as a auto fuel. If we can make ethanol from eucalyptus then we can make butanal with the new procedures. Look up ButylFuel, LLC, Gahanna, Ohio, USA. They are working on a process that goes from eucalyptus biomass to butanol in one step. I'm looking for someone to help me bring this to Australia and help make us the eucalyptus/butanol center of the world. The gum trees are our's and we should not let them be stolen by other parts of the world. Please contact me.