Ethanol fuel in Hawaii

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Ethanol is not presently manufactured in Hawaii and Hawaii State law requires all gasoline sold for vehicles to have up to 10% (signs at pumps indicate "up to" and not 10%) ethanol blended (E-10). No E-85 (85% ethanol) is yet sold for flex fuel use. About 45,000,000 US gallons (170,000,000 l; 37,000,000 imp gal) of ethanol were imported from the Caribbean or continental US in 2009.[1] Shipping costs, which amount to 20 to 30 cents per gallon, are passed on to the consumer.

Local production proposals[edit]

Several companies registered to make ethanol over 3 years ago in Hawaii, but none had started construction as of 2011. Sugar cane plantations are expected to make ethanol. The first technology is fermentation of a faster-growing cane and secondary process employs cellulosic process from the waste (bagasse) of the first process. Enough cane could be grown to greatly reduce imports; however, a drop in the price of ethanol and later oil ended most of these proposals in Hawaii.[1] Pacific West proposed to run a ethanol plant and a waste to electricity plant on Kauai and even reached a power agreement with Kauai Electric in 2008.

University of Hawaii Algae Research[edit]

The University of Hawaii is researching thermophilic algae by La Wahie to make ethanol. Sun makes algae grow faster in the tropics and animal feed may be available from cane leftovers. CO
is absorbed by the catalyst.

Big Island proposal[edit]

Several other ideas have come forward with agricultural basis on the island of Hawaii where former cane fields lie fallow. One company wants to use the wood grown in old cane areas that were planted with eucalyptus. High costs are an obstacle.

Kimo Sutton and Diamond Head Renewables[edit]

Diamond Head Renewable Resources LLC (DHRR), proposes to make alcohol fuels, including ethanol, from garbage, biomass and green waste. The projected conversion of waste to fuel is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are also considering landfill methane as a feedstock for making ethanol. The plant makes a syngas (synthesis gas) that is converted by catalysts to fuels. Syngas can be burned to generate electricity. The plant is expected to produce over 10 megawatts of power, for its own use and for the grid. Net reductions of approximately 74,000 tons of CO
are available using 10% biofuels.

The plant is expected to use 350 dry tons a day to make product and electricity, producing 12 million gallons of a mix of ethanol, methanol and other alcohols a year, growing to 40. This process and technology is similar to the Clear Fuels proposal, without the sugar to ethanol element.

Tax benefits and constraints[edit]

Food-based ethanol projects have had financial difficulty, because the incentives from the Farm act of 2008 emphasize cellulosic biomass to ethanol. Incentives include a $1/gallon tax credit, loan guarantees, and grants or funds available for small operations. State incentives include tax incentives and a business development department. Second generation ethanol is a priority for permitting by health officials.

A 100% state tax credit for high tech and new generation ethanol may be reduced or abolished.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Isle ethanol efforts stall: The two surviving ventures face high hurdles, Alan Yonan Jr., Honolulu Star Advertiser, June 27, 2010
  • DBEDT Hawai'i- energy
  • Websites of Gay and Robinson
  • Clear Fuels
  • US Dept. of Energy
  • La Wahie
  • Ethanol Producer Magazine Oct. 2008
  • [1]
  • Pacific West Energy
  • Diamond Head Renewable Resources