DailyDirt: Better Biofuels To Save The Day
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Weaning ourselves off of a hydrocarbon-powered economy is not going to be easy. The infrastructure to distribute and use petroleum distillates is ubiquitous, so biofuels that can easily use the same equipment could be a convenient way to start replacing fossil fuels. Using more and more biofuels sounds like an easy solution, but the real trick is scaling up the processes in an economical way. Here are just a few biofuel projects that might be worth keeping an eye on.
- Companies making biofuels from plant waste — avoiding corn as a feedstock — are starting to ramp up production, with capacities to make millions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol in a year. A few million gallons of alcohol isn’t that much compared to the hundred of billions (with a b) of gallons of petroleum distillates that the US uses as fuel, but these biofuel technologies could become price competitive with corn-based ethanol in a few years. [url]
- Enzymes from the wood-eating gribble could help turn cellulosic waste into biofuels. Not to be confused with the furry creatures hated by Klingons, the gribble produces this robust catalyst that breaks down a variety of polysaccharides into simple sugars — potentially creating a key step in a process that would make sustainable liquid biofuels. [url]
- A genetically modified strain of Pyrococcus furiosus might be useful for converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into chemicals and fuels. This microorganism usually lives near geothermal vents in ocean water, but an engineered colony of P furiosus could live in less extreme conditions and be fed a diet of hydrogen and carbon dioxide in order to skip the somewhat inefficient use of plant biomass to produce biofuels. [url]
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