Forms of cellulosic ethanol have been deemed better for the environment than the more widely known corn ethanol, according to research, and it turns out that our own Penn State is leading this thing, if conferences as far away as San Francisco are any test.
Studies show that cellulosic ethanol could replace nearly a third of gasoline by 2030.
Access to energy-rich sugars that are the heart of this bio-ethanal lie deep inside some plant-life and getting access is an arduous and expensive process. Fortunately, the Asian long-horned beetle is all about efficiency. They do it much better than scientists currently can, and a research team at Penn State is trying to let the beetle do the work.
The Department of Energy has thrown big money at biorefineries across the country in the hopes of speeding the development of cellulosic ethanol.
The Penn State team, led by biochemistry post-doctoral fellow Scott Geib and one of many at other universities doing similar work, is charged with figuring out this particular alternative fuel’s big problem. While wood is easier to grow than corn and its form of ethanol is seen as more environmentally-friendly, it’s awfully difficult to breakdown sufficiently. So much that it seems there might not be enough of the fuel to meet federal requirements that refiners begin using small amounts of the wood-based fuel in gasoline.
Whether science technology can be used in this path toward a more sustainable energy policy is up to researchers like Geib at Penn State.
It should also be noted that Geib has grown a gnarly beard since his graduate school days.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture.
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