The real potential for ethanol lies not in the corn fields of the Nebraska and Iowa but in cellulose. The amount of sugar that can be converted to alcohol that is locked up in cellulosic biomass far exceeds what is available from corn kernels. The problem is, well, that it's locked in there. The chemical bonds in cellulosic materials are much harder to break by normal methods than the bonds in the corn itself.
Mascoma Corp., a company solely focused on converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol, announced last week that a new partnership with Dartmouth College will bring commercial production of cellulosic ethanol one step closer. The partnership gives Mascoma access to several of Dartmouth's patents, and is not too surprising, considering the history of Mascoma's co-founder. Dartmouth Engineering professor Lee Lynd (pictured), is an expert in microbial cellulose conversion and a cellulosic ethanol prod