Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Scientific American: Biofuels are a false promise

A feature article titled The False Promise of Biofuels in the August 2011 edition of Scientific American admits, "the breakthroughs needed to replace oil with plant-based fuels are proving difficult to achieve." Furthermore,

  • "Despite extensive research, biofuels are still not commercially competitive. The breakthroughs needed, revealed by recent science, may be tougher to realize than previously thought.
  • Corn ethanol is widely produced because of subsidies, and it diverts massive tracts of farmland needed for food. Converting the cellulose in cornstalks, grasses and trees into biofuels is proving difficult and expensive. Algae that produce oils have not been grown at scale. And more advanced genetics are needed to successfully engineer synthetic micro­organisms that excrete hydrocarbons.
  • Some start-up companies are abandoning biofuels and are instead using the same processes to make higher-margin chemicals for products such as plastics or cosmetics."

1 comment:

  1. But we all know the solution to commercial non-competitiveness: put a tax on all competitors so that biofuels become cheaper.