Sunday, February 10, 2008

Biofuels - Using Waste Products May be Key to Establishing Their Green Credentials

As previously reported, biofuels - ethanol is the most well known - are struggling to establish themselves as a genuine alternative to fossil fuels.

The problem, which after being debated in numerous blogs online is now being picked up in the mainstream media such as the New York Times, focus on two key issues: first, the impact on the local agriculture and economies in developing countries if large scale production of ethanol-useful crops takes place. The second is the amount of CO2 that is produced in the entire life cycle of biofuels, especially at the initial stage if land is drained, and developed to grow these crops. The ploughing of previously uncultivated soil results in the release of significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

Coskata, working in partnership with General Motors, are one of the start up companies developing the technology to create ethanol from waste products - agricultural waste, feed waste and even wood chippings. The following video illustrates some of their current focus.

Ethanol produced in this way may go some way to address the concerns about the genuine sustainability of ethanol, though this is clearly a debate that is not over yet.

Related posts on biofuels and related energy issues.

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