Guys, have y'all been watching the news releases about Coskata's process to use household garbage and some special bacteria to make ethanol ? If you can get past some of V Khosla's hype, it still looks very interesting. We would be using a raw material that we seem to have an awful lot of, and it would be cheap. DF
Making ethanol from garbage or various waste products is noting new, the question is whether they make it in a liquid solution that has lots of water (as done with yeast) or they can make it without any, or much water?
As I've said it before, the Achilles heel of ethanol production is the distillation because it requires so much energy.
I don't know of anything called "syngas", so until they clarify it, I assume it's probably methane (if they do the conversion at low temperature) or a complex mixture of hydrocarbons if they heat up the garbage.
You're right, it is a mixture. Here's Wikipedia's definition:
"Syngas (from synthesis gas) is the name given to a gas mixture that contains varying amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen generated by the gasification of a carbon containing fuel to a gaseous product with a heating value."
My bad. Now I remember. (I actually studied that in school ) Historically, 'syngas' used to be made from hot coal and water; in addition, I should've checked out the link you posted before my previous reply.
In any case, the revolutionary thing in their process is the "proprietary membrane" -- that can certainly get around the distillation requirement and make ethanol production more competitive.