Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bioenergy Bites

University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute is prospecting for thermophilic bacteria inside hot springs, to find better ways to convert lignocellulosic biomass to simple sugars for fermentation to biofuels.

The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Project is cloning several likely plant varieties in an attempt to produce hardier, faster growing biomass.

Indonesia and Malaysia are stepping up biodiesel-from-palm oil production in order to make use of growing stockpiles of palm oil, that the countries stupidly stockpiled in the recent "food crisis" hysteria.

Neste Oil of Finland is investing in New Zealand algae oil research.

Researchers at Texas A&M University, University of Arizona, USDA's Agriculture Research Service in Maricopa, Ariz., and Peoria, Ill., and Terresolve Technologies Ltd. are looking at a wild mustard plant native to the southwestern part of North America, as a biofuel feedstock.
Lesquerella provides an agricultural alternative to petroleum that can grow successfully in less productive environments and support rural economies. This project may yield new industrial products from renewable raw materials and expand on market opportunities for farmers and rural communities.

The Department of Energy is evaluating lesquerella oil products as bio-diesel additives. In addition, studies show that the high level of hydroxy fatty acids in lesquerella increases oil lubricity as compared to other vegetable oils. A private company, Technology Crops International, plans to market lesquerella oil, which could result in a huge market for growers in the Southwest.
It would have been nice if all of this research into better biofuel feedstocks had taken place after the first oil shocks in the 1970s. Of course it would have been better if the US had pursued oil shale production starting ten or twenty years ago, so as not to be held up today by Luddite Senators Salazar and Boxer, and Speaker Pelosi.

Human governments and bureaucracies are not known for their tendency to plan ahead.



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