April 25, 2008
Posted by scott at April 25, 2008 10:12 AM
Scientists at the University of Texas have created a microbe which produces a type of cellulose which is much cheaper to turn into biofuel than the type produced by plants. Of all the new processes announced this year, this one definitely seems the most promising. It would seem to change the problem of biofuel creation from one of expensive enzymes and complex processing to one of simple brewing. Could this be the first step in "microbrew" fuel stations? Well, we can always hope!
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This one would be very cool, indeed. If I'm understanding the process correctly (and mind you, this is completely from memory of a single class I took over 10 years ago), having a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria means that no fertilizer would be needed - just give them access to water and sunlight, plus open air sources so they can pull the CO2 from the atmosphere.
If done well, this could lead to initial home-brew kits prior to the gov't regulating it. Why are they going to regulate it? Because having everyone in the country home-brewing ethanol could lead to people not paying taxes on the alcohol they drink (not that this stuff would taste good, the distillation and refinement needed to make that happen would be extreme, which is why it doesn't happen to any great extent now).
That's lost revenue, and despite what we hear during election years about lowering taxes, they really don't mean that...