Most ethanol is produced using a four-step process:
The forward reaction (the production of ethanol) is exothermic.
M. Benito and co-workers  have studied a new catalyst for hydrogen production by steam reforming of bio-ethanol. Three catalysts have been synthesized and tested for ethanol steam reforming. One of the developed catalysts was very active with 100% ethanol conversion at 700˚C. Ethanol reforming over Ni/MgO and Ni/CeO2 catalyst in molten carbonate fuel cell has been investigated by F. Frusteri et al.  . Both catalytic systems, at equilibrium conditions, are able to produce a rich hydrogen stream.
Syngas can also be used for the production of:
Since 5-carbon sugars degrade more rapidly than 6-carbon sugars, one way to decrease sugar degradation is to have a two-stage process. The first stage is conducted under mild process conditions to recover the 5-carbon sugars while the second stage is conducted under harsher conditions to recover the 6-carbon sugars. Unfortunately, sugar degradation is still a problem and yields are limited to around 272 L/t (80 gallons of ethanol/ton) of dry wood.
Production of ethanol from synthesis gas. - CAB Direct
A route for making fuel grade ethanol from natural gas has been proposed by Humphreys & Glasgow, Ltd., in conjunction with Monsanto and BASF. The route combines conventional steam reforming and methanol synthesis, Monsanto's process for making acetic acid from methanol, and BASF's technology for hydrogenation of acetic acid to ethanol.
Research on ethanol synthesis from syngas | SpringerLink
Most dilute acid processes are limited to a sugar recovery efficiency of around 50%. The reason for this is that at least two reactions are part of this process. The first reaction converts the cellulosic materials to sugar and the second reaction converts the sugars to other chemicals. Unfortunately, the conditions that cause the first reaction to occur also are the right conditions for the second to occur. Thus, once the cellulosic molecules are broken apart, the reaction proceeds rapidly to break down the sugars into other productsmost notably furfural, a chemical used in the plastics industry. Not only does sugar degradation reduce sugar yield, but the furfural and other degradation products can be poisonous to the fermentation microorganisms.
ICM INC - Ethanol Production Process
"Ultimately our objective is to displace more than 90 percent of the plant's natural gas requirement."
But what if the goal of the ethanol producer or pulp and paper mill owner is to produce a rich syngas for the production of electricity?