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The current biodiesel push toward cleaner diesel is going in the totally wrong direction, both by locking us further into the diesel technology and using up valuable farm land that could otherwise be used to grow perfectly good people food.

The ethanol alternative is slightly better as it can be distilled from sugar cane suds. However, it’s more economically efficient to turn most of the cane into alcohol instead of just the lower yield suds and just like in the case of corn or beet biodiesel agriculturally viable land is being used to grow ethanol cane.

The biofuel future head into a relatively new field of research where algae and other simple plants are being modified to generate gas like hydrocarbs. Some algae already do this naturally and there’s an emerging theory this type was much more abundant in the past generated pretty much all of the oil reserves in the world. But given success in this research we could turn the current carbon vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle. The bioengineered algae would turn free CO2 from either the ocean or the atmosphere into hydrocarbs easily processable into fuels compatible with the current oil based types. f the process is scaled up enough we’d eventually reach a 0 sum process were all the released CO2 is recaptured by the algae using sun light as a power source.
Another interesting advance would be to tweak other types of algae into the generation of fertilizer through the same process in order to remove excess carbon from the fuel cycle back into the biomass cycles.

/green | edited on 2008/06/09 -- permalink, click to comment
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