Breakthrough in biofuel production process – green gasoline is not that far away

gasolineResearchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made a significant breakthrough in the development of biofuels (“green gasoline”), a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources, such as poplar trees and switch grass. Poplar plants have been in the scientific spotlight before, as they are considered to disarm toxic pollutants 100 times better than the usual stuff.

Reporting in the April 7, 2008 issue of Chemistry & Sustainability, Energy & Materials (ChemSusChem), chemical engineer and National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER awardee George Huber of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and his graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute announced for the first time the direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components. While we are probably 5-10 years away from actually making this gasoline a viable choice, this is definetly a significant breakthrogh which has surpassed several hurdles in its way to bringing green gasoline biofuels to market.

“It is likely that the future consumer will not even know that they are putting biofuels into their car,” said Huber. “Biofuels in the future will most likely be similar in chemical composition to gasoline and diesel fuel used today. The challenge for chemical engineers is to efficiently produce liquid fuels from biomass while fitting into the existing infrastructure today.”

“Green gasoline is an attractive alternative to bioethanol since it can be used in existing engines and does not incur the 30 percent gas mileage penalty of ethanol-based flex fuel,” said John Regalbuto, who directs the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program at NSF and supported this research.

Also, aside from the academic laboratories, other smaller businesses and petroleum are chasing the green gasoline objective. Aside from other advantages, producing it also requires less energy, and with the plan that Huber presented, it seems we can see the light at the end of the tunnel in the the impending fuel crisis.

5 thoughts on “Breakthrough in biofuel production process – green gasoline is not that far away

  1. the1calledj

    You are still taking oil from a plant and burning it. Sure this was fine for the turn of the twentieth century but we are well into the twenty first century. If these “biofuels” are our future then why were there better technologies available during the twentieth century for fuel and not used. Read some of Nicolas Tesla’s work on electricity. Here is the link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla
    We as a people are being held back by the greedy ambitions of a few people.

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  3. Uncle B

    Why in Hell would anybody aim to reproduce such a poor fuel as gasoline? It combusts at too low a pressure for an engine to develop real power, it requires additives to prevent knocking, it explodes on impact, it burns dirty, has a short shelf life, givs off noxious pollution, it is toxic to humans, it causes cancer, dangerous to spill, it evaporates before you can use it all up and it doesn’t go very far per tankful! Synthesize an ideal fuel for internal combustion engines – one that burns poorly or not at all on impact, one that goes very very far per tankful, one that can be compressed beyond diesel and get real power from the process! one that burns completely clean! one that bio-degrades when spilt, one that is non-toxic to humans, one that does not cause cancer! a really concentrated safe energy storage medium! Wake up America, the Chinese read the net too! Watch out! they might beat you to this sensible conclusion on bio-fuels. George Bush still likes ethanol! What a moron!spent billions proving it too! Corn oil would probably work better! God help us, we are a nation of emotion driven morons! Where has the pragmatic cool sensible clear headed thinking gone? Is this the legacy of the lead we used to put in gasoline to make it burn nice, or is this caused by the new “safe” (my ass) additives used?

  4. harold

    how about its still going to produce Greenhouse gas compounds that will only allow humans to keep screwing up the atmosphere!

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