Fuel of the Future
Two national institutes are hoping to reduce NZ’s national oil consumption by developing the production of cellulosic ethanol. Ag Research and Scion (formerly the NZ Forest Research Institute) are working with US company Diversa on turning byproducts from the country’s forestry and paper businesses into cellulosic ethanol. While ordinary ethanol is made from corn or sugar cane, the cellulosic variety comes from agricultural products with little or no other value, thus driving down the cost of production. Diversa spokesman William Baum predicts that a cellulosic-ethanol plant could be built in NZ in approximately three years. He believes that, if successful, the plant could help NZ offset a significant portion of its oil imports.