A Lower-Cost Route to a Cleaner Fuel
Celanese develops an efficient way to create ethanol sans corn.
Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE) says it has created a game-changing energy technology that can help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. After years of development, it is rolling out its TCX® Technology, which produces fuel ethanol from basic hydrocarbons rather than from agricultural products such as corn. CFO Steven Sterin, who also is president of Celanese’s Advanced Fuel Technologies business, says this is a commercially viable, low-cost route to ethanol, as the fuel can be produced from America’s abundant natural gas and coal resources, and doesn’t use arable land or require government support.
The annual global demand for ethanol fuel is a reported 70 million tons.
A TCX® ethanol plant is more than three times the scale of a typical corn-based ethanol plant.
TCX® ethanol production costs are about one-third lower than conventional ethanol production costs.
A thermochemical process, the TCX® Technology converts a mixture of syngas, produced from multiple hydrocarbon sources, and methanol to produce low-cost ethanol, Sterin explains. The process is highly selective, scalable and energy-efficient, he notes, producing limited amounts of waste and using virtually no water. “We believe our technology is the most efficient way to use hydrocarbons to create energy in the form of fuel ethanol,” he adds.
Because the EPA’s current Renewable Fuel Standard rules dictate that ethanol be made only from plant or animal sources, Celanese is currently focusing on foreign markets such as China and Indonesia. Sterin expresses hope, however, that the U.S. mandates will change as the worldwide need for clean-burning, hydrocarbon-sourced fuel increases and the nation looks to boost its energy independence. “We’ve got this made-in-the-U.S.A. technology,” he says. “Right now we’re leaving a lot of energy independence and job creation on the table.”