I know that once you have sugars, you can ferment, distill, and dehydrate to create 95+% ethanol. I've also read about cellulosic ethanol, with the new step there being the breakdown of the cellulose into simpler sugars. Is there a relatively cheap way to do that yet, or it still only in expensive research labs?

  • $\begingroup$ If you want to do it on a small scale at home, why not just buy sugar: it is likely to be a lot cheaper than trying to make it from cellulose. $\endgroup$ – matt_black Jan 7 '14 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking specifically about how to convert waste grass clippings into useful fuel. $\endgroup$ – Rob N Jan 8 '14 at 15:24

A method used to break down cellulose into sugars is hydrolysis :

You could use enzymes to hydrolyze the cellulose to produce glucose, but enzymes cost a lot and as you are looking for a cheap way, using enzymes is not an option. A second method is to use an acid (e.g. sulfuric acid) to produce the glucose (just google "cellulose acid hydrolysis" and you'll find some useful links)

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Do you know of any prices online for the enzymes? I'm curious exactly how much "a lot" is. But yes I'll look into the acid hydrolysis. $\endgroup$ – Rob N Jan 7 '14 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Sigma-aldrich sells enzyme solutions for around 76.9(USD) for 50ml (and for 250ml it is 211(USD))(however this varies from product to product) $\endgroup$ – user2117 Jan 7 '14 at 18:39

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