Bioethanol Production: Status and Prospects

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Production of fuel ethanol from renewable lignocellulosic materials ("bioethanol") has the potential to reduce burgeoning world dependence on petroleum while decreasing net emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas. This paper reviews the benefits and status of bioethanol production technology, focusing mostly on recent developments in the United States of America. The composition of representative lignocellulosic biomass species is presented and processing options under investigation are described. Discussion of current research directions highlights recent breakthroughs that significantly improve the prospects for commercialization. The pace of recent developments suggests that large-scale bioethanol production facilities will come on line in the United States within the next several years.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalRenewable Energy
Issue number2/3
StatePublished - 1997

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-423-21130


  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Processing options
  • Production status


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