Midland, Michigan – The Dow Chemical Company and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have announced an agreement to jointly develop and evaluate a process to convert biomass to ethanol and other chemical building blocks.

A mixed alcohol catalyst from Dow is seen as the key to the process, which will use non-food ingredients such as corn plant leaves or wood wastes, and convert the bio-based material through a gasification process to synthesis gas. The technology helps convert the synthesis gas to a mixture of alcohols, including ethanol that can be used as transportation fuels or chemical building blocks.

“NREL is interested in reducing the cost of biofuels in support of the nation’s energy goals,” said Dan Arvizu, NREL Director. “Dow’s catalyst technology and expertise in catalyst development and testing will be extremely helpful as we evaluate the viability of this approach on a larger scale.”

The joint evaluation program will focus on improving the mixed alcohol catalyst, as well as demonstrating pilot scale performance and the commercial relevance of an integrated facility.

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