There's ethanol, a gasoline substitute/blending fuel, and then there's biogasoline. This relatively unknown plant-based fuel is the subject of research at a few different labs, including one at North Carolina State University
that uses the Cetina process
. Another group working on something more like traditional gasoline from biosources is made up of Shell
and Wisconsin's Virent Energy Systems
. The partnership announced last week that they will form "a joint research and development effort to convert plant sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline blend components, rather than ethanol." Should something like this work, and be made sustainably, then one of ethanol's major drawbacks when viewed from a standpoint of a culture used to gasoline - the reduced energy content - would be eliminated. Virent head Dr. Randy Cortright said in a statement
that the biogasoline matches "petroleum gasoline in functionality and performance," so there's that. Even though Shell and Virent have been researching biogasoline for a year, there is no word on when this fuel might be available for sale. It's a safe bet that it'll take a while.