New study quantifies differences in biofuel crops, impact on environment

There are plenty of flex-fuel capable cars on the roads, but there is not nearly enough ethanol available to power all of them on the gasoline alternative. It's no secret that corn-based ethanol is not the answer to our oil woes, but if that's the case, what alternatives should we be looking closest at? Regular readers are surely aware that cellulosic ethanol is the way to go when it comes to alcohol-based fuels, but even with that process, a crop of some sort is required. Additionally, biodiesel offers plenty of advantages over petroleum-based diesel fuel, but an oil-rich crop is required for its creation as well. A new study from the University of Washington was commissioned to find the most desirable crops for biofuels which suggests that algae and fast-growing trees be considered as the cream-of-the-crop, so to speak.
"While some biofuels may be an improvement over traditional fuels, we believe we should focus much more on the biofuels of the future that can be developed in small spaces, rather than extensively on crop lands," according to lead author Martha Groom. "We also must shun biofuels that are grown by clearing biologically-rich habitats, such as tropical rainforests, as has occurred with oil palm and some other biofuels," she adds. The study also recommends that a special look be taken at crops which sequester carbon as they grow.

We may add that another benefit to both algae and fast-growing trees is that nobody is growing them already for food.

[Source: Science Daily]

Share This Photo X