What is the future for biofuels?

What happened to biofuels?

Everybody was talking about biofuels a few years ago. Politicians in the U.S. saw corn ethenol as a path to “energy independence,” while greener folks preferred biodiesel made from waste cooking oil. Fans of biofuels said that these were supposed to be just a bridge to second-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and algae biodiesel; these wouldn’t be made from food crops or limited feedstocks, and they would be much greener overall.



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The U.S. now uses more corn for fuel than feed!


Using corn as fuel is Madness! And not the British band…

The corn ethanol supporters are probably not very familiar with the concept of opportunity cost. Either that, or the subsidies and high corn prices are just to juicy to give up. Only about 20% of all the corn grown in the U.S. now goes to feed humans directly, and more than half of what remains is now being turned into ethanol fuel while the other half goes to feed livestock. The problem is that life-cycle studies show that corn ethanol ranges from barely better than fossil-fuel gasoline to significantly worse, especially if you take into account land use issues and the impact of higher food prices on the poor. Many would agree that corn ethanol is a net loss for society, yet this industry keeps growing…

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Six strategies to get better gas mileage this summer


The less you have to brake, the better your fuel economy.

With gas at nearly $4 per gallon you don’t need to buy a new car to get better mileage on your road trip this summer. Popular Mechanics put fuel-sipping advice to the test by outfitting an ordinary ten-year-old car with an extremely accurate fuel economy gauge and trying out all the gas-saving driving tactics we could think of. Here are six strategies that work, plus more quick tips for better MPG.


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Whiskey Biofuel 30% More Powerful Than Ethanol

whiskey biofuel

Scientists at Edinburgh Napier University had developed a new biofuel from the by-products of whiskey distilling.

The food versus fuel debate already has many people worried that we can’t feed the world and power our cars. but some folks are claiming we can power (some of) our cars, feed the world and have a drink in the process. Karin already reported on Scottish efforts to create biofuels from byproducts of distilling, and now it looks like such efforts are paying off. The resulting fuel may even offer significant performance improvements over regular ethanol.


Samsung Fuel Cell Battery Ready for Market

 Samsung Fuel Cell Battery Ready for Market

Amazingly light and efficient fuel cells

Samsung’s been toying around with fuel cell batteries for about three years, but now it means business. Rolling out first to the military, this ethanol-powered fuel cell is set to power military paraphernalia next year. But it’s not going to run laptops for a month as originally promised. (Pics)

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Rare Microbe To Help Make A Better Biofuel

Rare Bug To Help Make A Better Biofuel

Zymetis is testing genetically modified bacteria that efficiently convert biomass into sugar.  

A tiny microbe found in the Chesapeake Bay is the focus of intense study for a biotech startup in College Park, MD. Zymetis has genetically modified a rare, cellulose-eating bacterium to break down and convert cellulose into sugars necessary to make ethanol, and it recently completed its first commercial-scale trial. Earlier this year, the company ran the modified microbe through a series of tests in large fermenters and found that it was able to convert one ton of cellulosic plant fiber into sugar in 72 hours. The trial, researchers say, illustrates the organism’s potential in helping to produce ethanol cheaply and efficiently at industrial scales. Zymetis is now raising the first round of venture capital to bring the technology to commercial applications.

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Spirited BioFuel: Getting Tanked With Tequila


Powerful Plants

Remember the Australian farmers who are growing their own oil with the Brazilian diesel trees? Now comes the story of another enterprising Aussie, who is also seeking his fuel salvation, via a different South American plant. This time it is the succulent from which Tequila is derived – Agave.

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Cars Fueled With Leftover Beer

Cars Fueled With Leftover Beer 

 Micro Fueler

Beer fueling cars? Cars now competing for beer that you should be guzzling? Yep. And your car won’t get a beer gut or wake up next to Quasimodo the next morning. Don’t sweat it though, we’re talking leftovers. Sierra Nevada has purchased a MicroFueler, which produces ethanol from water, sugar and yeast. As you probably know from Beer 101, yeast is a major byproduct of beer fermentation. So they can now make fuel out of beer leftovers.

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