Friday, April 22, 2011

Biofuels Production of Over US$ 11 Trillion by 2050: IEA

In Washington, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that it expects biofuels to generate $11-$13 trillion in production between 2010 and 2050, and the global share of biofuel in total transport fuel to grow from 2% today to 27% in 2050. _BiofuelsDigest

UC Berkeley is "all in" on the project. Not only is UCB an integral part of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, the school has also just launched the Synthetic Biology Institute for new research & development in biological engineering, and scale the advances up to industrial levels.

In the meantime, dozens of well-financed biotech companies, such as Joule Unlimited, are rushing ahead to develop custom microbes specifically tailored to produce specific fuels and high value chemical products. Joule is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the opposite side of the US from UC Berkeley, in the middle of a competing high technology startup zone. Similar zones are located near Stanford U., around Austin, Texas, near La Jolla, California, and around dozens of other high tech startup zones across North America.

Clearly, if biofuels are to provide roughly 1/3 of global transportation fuels by the year 2050, a tremendous amount of feedstock will be required. Cellulosic biomass (both marine and terrestrial) will be one type of feedstock, as will waste streams of various types. All types of waste plastics, waste rubbers, waste papers and cardboards, waste foam packing etc etc will be routinely grabbed up by this growing industry, as valuable feedstock. Anything considered "garbage" or "waste" today is likely to be seen as a feedstock to be turned into high value product, by the time period of 2025 to 2050.

This will be simple economics, not an effort to "save Gaia."

Virginia Tech has recently licensed an open software tool tailored for synthetic biology safety. It is meant to monitor chemical reagent and biological agent acquisitions, to minimise the dangers of misuse of synthetic biology technologies, eg for terrorism.

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