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Don't count newspapers out yet – they might someday be used to power your car. A research team at Tulane University has discovered a microbe that eats newspapers for lunch and then spits out biofuel.

Drinking and driving is a bad idea, but drinking to help put fuel in the tank? That's worth looking into.

Scientists in Germany have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment the sugars pentose (C5) and hexose (C6) from biomass feedstock to create ethanol and butanol. Translation: cellulosic ethanol may be one step closer to being more than the green automotive buzzword of 2008 or, worse, one of the biggest losers of 2009.

Dyson Racing B09/96 running at Mid-Ohio – click above for high-res image gallery

Dyson Racing B09/96 running at Mid-Ohio – click above for high-res image gallery

BP could become the first major energy company to start commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol in 2010 if all goes according to plan. BP has been partnering with Verenium Corporation to commercialize the latter company's process for breaking down cellulose into sugars.

Dyson Racing B09/96 running at Mid-Ohio - click above for high res image gallery

Dyson Racing B09/96 running at Mid-Ohio - click above for high-res image gallery

Butanol is the oft-ignored orphan of the biofuel world, but it's getting some attention down south. Scientists in New Orleans think that waste from zoo animals might be just the ticket to making the fuel for automobile use. Researchers form Tulane University aren't looking to turn the animal feces itself into fuel, but are investigating the waste product of plant-eating animals in the zoo to see what bacteria are involved in breaking down cellulose inside the animal. These bacteria, which would

Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series, wants to return his brand back to the top ranks of the series and possibly bring a new greener fuel as well. Panoz spoke at press conference in the run up to Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring and announced that the race car manufacturer he owns is working on a LMP1 class coupe. Like the Panoz GTR-1 that ran successfully both in ALMS and in Europe in the late '90s first in GT1 and later with modifications as P1 car, this one would be front-engined,

Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series, wants to return his brand back to the top ranks of the series and possibly bring a new greener fuel as well. Panoz spoke at press conference in the run up to Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring and announced that the race car manufacturer he owns is working on a LMP1 class coupe. Like the Panoz GTR-1 that ran successfully both in ALMS and in Europe in the late '90s first in GT1 and later with modifications as P1 car, this one would be front engined.

It's debatable whether or not now is the right time to make changes in the way our cars are made, with some believing that Detroit should follow the path it's already on and others claiming there couldn't be a better time to make major sweeping changes. Count DuPont head Chad Holliday among the latter. Holliday's so-called "Detroit Project" would challenge American automakers to introduce a new "Car of the Future" that would achieve 75 miles per gallon and run on butanol – an alcohol fuel

With all the negative publicity about corn ethanol lately there hasn't been much discussion about another longer chain alcohol, specifically butanol. Like other alcohols, it makes a good motor fuel and it can also be synthesized from biomass. Mountainview, CA-based Cobalt Biofuels has raised a $25 million round of venture funding toward its goal of commercializing biobutanol. The company has developed a microbe-based process for producing butanol from non-food biomass. The new funding will be us

When most people think of biofuels, the usual suspects that first sprint to mind are ethanol and biodiesel. That's not to say, though, that these are the only game in town. There's another player for a non-petroleum alcohol fuel that could displace gasoline in the form of butanol, which can be distilled in a similar manner as ethanol. There are many proponents for biobutanol who claim that the fuel is superior to its ethanol sibling, and there may be some truth to those claims. Butanol can run i

As our readers know, the biofuels field of investigation is huge and there are quite a number of upcoming technologies that can make the renewable fuel without competing with feedstocks. The most notable of these technologies use waste streams and often also require less water to make biofuel. Popular Mechanics lists seven of these new biofuel technologies and provides some numbers about how and when they will be available: cellulosic ethanol (both biological and gasified), algal biodiesel, "gre

Robert Zubrin has new book on gaining petroleum independence by switching from imported oil to alcohol fuels. He wants Congress to require that all new cars and trucks built be flex-fuel capable. There's an interesting interview done by Glenn Reynolds and Helen Smith on their podcast. Zubrin certainly makes a good case that all new vehicles should be built with flex-fuel capability. More importantly, he wants to make sure that vehicles can run on any alcohol, including methanol or butanol.

Robert Zubrin thinks so. Zubrin is an aerospace engineer and long-time advocate of manned missions to Mars. While going to Mars is a highly dubious proposition given the issues we need to deal with on our planet right now, making all gasoline engines flex-fuel capable as Zubrin promotes in his new book is probably a very good idea. The incremental cost of flex-fuel capability is only about $100 per vehicle and that would provide the ability to use any alcohol fuel including methanol and butanol.

This article will certainly please some of our readers, and with good reason.

We have covered a few times the potential of biobutanol as a biofuel: It seems to have better properties than ethanol and it can be used in cars without modifications. It also has almost the same energy content as gasoline, thus reducing fuel consumption in comparison to ethanol.

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