from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Biology has already figured out how to capture and use solar energy, so it makes some sense that we could try to re-purpose natural mechanisms to do our bidding and fulfill our energy needs. The trick is doing it on a scale that works economically. Plenty of scientists are working on ways to produce biofuels, but so far, the amount of biofuel used commercially is a rounding error compared to the volume of petroleum products that is burned. Still, here are just a few examples of biofuels that could be promising alternatives to burning dinosaur remains.
- Genetically modified versions of Escherichia coli (E. coli) have produced small amounts of gasoline in a lab — which could potentially be scaled up to ‘grow’ a practical biofuel that doesn’t require significant changes to our existing petroleum-powered economy. Bacteria have produced biodiesel before, but this is the first time a ‘biogasoline’ has been grown. [url]
- Cellulosic ethanol is either a boondoggle or the next big biofuel. The US converts about 40% of its corn crop into alcohol fuel, and some say it’s time to end the subsidies that support this semi-established biofuel. [url]
- Plant waste could be fermented to produce a gasoline-like fuel, too. A pilot plant for scaling up this process is a couple years away still, but this is another way we could keep our gas-guzzling cars and use more environmentally friendly fuels at the pump. [url]
- Biofuels are usually promoted with the benefit of being carbon neutral, but the technology to turn biomass into energy can be carbon negative, too. Gasification heats up biomass like corn husk waste in a low oxygen environment to create combustible hydrogen and carbon-rich charcoal. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.