Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working on a new method to create syngas from biomass which can then be burned directly to make electricity or converted to many different liquid fuels that we use today. There are already processes being used to create syngas, but this particular one might be the quickest and most efficient. Using "a 700 to 800 degree Celsius porous surface" along with the (very expensive) precious metal rhodium, their process breaks down the biomass in 70 milliseconds. This quick process can either be used to create more fuels or to downsize the reactors, which could reduce or eliminate the cost of the transportation of the biomass.
This process is competing with other new methods of creating syngas, oftentimes which use bacteria to break down the biomass. We'll be keeping an eye on these technologies and our hopes up that new inexpensive and large-scale methods bring biofuels to the masses.
[Source: Technology Review]